22 Apr 2013 09:00
Israeli President Shimon Peres held a diplomatic working meeting on April 22nd with Azerbaijan FM Elmar Mammadyarov to discuss strengthening strategic relations between Azerbaijan and Israel. This is a historical first visit by an Azerbaijan FM in Israel.
PM Peres praised Azerbaijan for playing a key role in countering the influence of neighbouring Iran in the region, stressing that the small Muslim country has taken a “clear stand” against war and terrorism. Calling Azerbaijan’s geographic location “unique,” Peres said Tel Aviv considers Azerbaijan an important ally in the region.
Israel and Azerbaijan's diplomatic relationship began in 1992 when Azerbaijan separated from the communist Soviet Union, and appears to be rapidly building on a number of fronts, and not only because of their similar stances via Iran.
Reuters reports that Azerbaijan's government has signed a $1.6 billion arms trade deal with Israel, and that dozens of Israeli drones were included in the agreement. The international news agency has also reported that Israel is interested in Azerbaijan’s oil reserves.
This strategic meeting comes at a time when tension continues to mount between Israel and Iran over Iran's alleged nuclear program.