Gov. Kevin Stitt (R-Okla.) is a long way from home this week, as his office announced Monday morning he had landed in Baku, Azerbaijan, for a week-long trip to "promote and expand Oklahoma’s strategic partnerships with Azerbaijan."
The Southern Caucuses nation on the Caspian Sea has an oil-and-gas economy bolstered by tourism and agribusiness, all sectors Oklahoma is long-established in or aiming to grow.
"I am honored to accept President Ilham Aliyev’s invitation to visit Azerbaijan and look forward to productive meetings with his administration on ways we can continue to work together,” Stitt said in a statement from his office. “Oklahoma and Azerbaijan have a shared focus on energy, agriculture, and innovation, and I am excited to explore this country and meet the Azerbaijani people.”
The Oklahoma National Guard visited Azerbaijan in 2002, beginning a connection lasting through 2019, "when Oklahoma State University and Azerbaijan State Agricultural University finalize a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop academic programs and facilitate student and faculty exchanges between the two institutions," according to a news release.
"Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur and Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson, The Adjutant General of the Oklahoma National Guard, previously arrived in Baku, and Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development Scott Mueller will arrive later in the week," the governor's office said in the release.