Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister, Elmar Mammadyarov, met with Israeli President Shimon Peres Monday during the former’s historic visit to Israel. Mammadyarov is in Israel on a two-day diplomatic trip, the first by a foreign minister of Azerbaijan.
During the meeting Peres praised the country for the stance it’s taken towards its southern neighbor, Iran.
Tehran “is today considered the greatest danger to peace in the world,” Peres said, according to a press release from the Office of the President. “I know the policy of Azerbaijan is of peace, friendship, development but also of independence. With your unique geographic location there is no doubt that you already are and will continue to be a key country in this part of the world. Azerbaijan takes a clear stand against terror, against war.”
“Our country is not in an easy neighborhood, and you correctly indicate that we believe in having a good neighborhood for the development of the state,” Mammadyarov said.
Israel and Azerbaijan have strong diplomatic and economic ties and trade between the two countries sits at $125 million a year and when energy is added to the calculation reaches $3 billion a year. In 2012 ties deepened further when the two countries signed a $1.4 billion arms deal.
Relations between Iran and secular-minded Azerbaijan, however, have become increasingly rocky. In March of 2012, Azerbaijan broke up what it said was a Iranian-trained terror ring planning to attack Israeli and American targets in the country, and in December, Iran accused Azerbaijan of using Israeli drones to spy on the Islamic Republic across their shared border.
The visit “serves to further promote our already very good relations,” Peres said. “Azerbaijan is a great country with a great future which is beginning to fulfill the potential of its natural and human wealth.”