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November 25, 2014 11:41 am

As Nuclear Talks Fail, Israel to Upgrade Relations With Iran Neighbor Azerbaijan

avatar by Dave Bender

ISDEF military expo. Photo: Israel Pictures.

ISDEF military expo. Photo: Israel Pictures.

Azerbaijani military leaders plan to visit Israel in June, in order to attend an international arms exhibition, a move which suggests strengthening ties with the Kavkazi state, Israel’s Ch. 2 News said Tuesday.

The head of the Azerbaijani National Guard; Special Forces Command, and Defense Ministry officials decided to send an official delegation to the upcoming ISDEF military trade show, an international defense exhibition to be held in Tel Aviv in June.

This is the first time that such a high-level delegation will be in Israel, which attributes major strategic importance to bilateral relations with Iran’s neighbor.

Recently-planned attacks by Iranian and Hezbollah terror cells prompted the defense establishment to upgrade equipment and training for its Special Forces, and the visit to the upcoming ISDEF military trade show.

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The planned visit comes after Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon made a surprise trip to Azerbaijan in mid September, marking the first high-level state visit to the Muslim-majority nation.

“I’m happy to visit here on the first and historical visit of an Israeli defense minister in Azerbaijan,” Ya’alon said in Baku. “Cooperation between the countries is flourishing. There are strategic relations between the countries, and cooperation in a number of fields.”

During the visit, the DM opened the Israeli booth at an arms convention, and met with the country’s small Jewish minority.

Ya’alon met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, and other senior officials, the Israeli Defense Ministry said.

Yaalon in Azerbaijan. Photo: Defense Ministry.

Yaalon in Azerbaijan. Photo: Defense Ministry.

Israeli defense and arms makers see a big potential in Azerbaijan, as seen in the large number of companies and Israeli visitors to the ADEX exhibition, the first defense exhibition held in Baku.

Despite allegations, “Iran’s accusations that Azerbaijan is helping Israel spy on the Islamic Republic are James Bond fantasies,” Rafael Harpaz, Israel’s ambassador to Azerbaijan, told The Algemeiner in October.

In the exclusive interview, Harpaz and Elin Suleymanov, the Republic of Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the U.S., addressed various claims by Iran regarding Azerbaijan’s involvement in Israeli efforts to thwart Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran, Azerbaijan’s neighbor to its south, has repeatedly accused the the Azeris of allowing their territory to be used by Israeli intelligence operatives, according to The Jerusalem Post. In August, Iran also claimed it shot down an Israeli-made drone spying on its nuclear activity that it said took off from Azerbaijan.

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