WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement regarding the release of 14 political prisoners by Azerbaijan's President Aliyev:

"The Government of Azerbaijan's release of 14 political prisoners today is a positive step forward for the people of Azerbaijan and for relations between our countries. While I'm relieved that these individuals are no longer behind bars, many others remain and I call on our own administration to urge President Aliyev, when he visits Washington in two weeks, to free them as well.

"I greatly value the friendship between our countries.  I also hope for continued reforms that will give the people of Azerbaijan the freedom, security, and prosperity that all people desire and that will allow our two countries to deepen their cooperation in critical areas such as counterterrorism and energy."