Oil-Rich Azerbaijan Considers Investments in Asia, Latin America

President Ilham Aliyev said Azerbaijan, an energy-rich former Soviet nation, is considering investing in Asian and Latin American markets given its close political ties with countries in each region.

“Our relations with Asian countries are developing very successfully, based on mutual respect and non-interference in each other’s affairs,” Aliyev said in comments published on his website today. “Asia and Latin America look attractive in terms of diversifying our investment portfolio.”

Western nations and rights watchdogs based in the U.S. and the European Union have criticized the state of human rights and freedoms in Azerbaijan, urging the Aliyev government to carry out democratic reforms. Aliyev, who took over from his father in disputed presidential elections in 2003, plans to run for a third term in October.

Azerbaijan’s State Oil Fund, known as Sofaz, is interested in investing in real estate in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, China and Australia, the fund’s executive director, Shahmar Movsumov, said in an interview broadcast on state TV channel AzTV on Jan. 17.

Sofaz, established in 1999 to manage the Caspian Sea nation’s income from oil and gas sales, had $33.9 billion of assets as of Dec. 1.

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