Iran concerned about Israel’s presence in Caucasus, FM says

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Iran’s new foreign minister said Wednesday that Tehran had “serious concerns” about Israel’s actions in the Caucasus region.

Iranian chief diplomat Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made the comments while in Moscow for talks with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“We will certainly not tolerate a geopolitical shift and a change of map in the Caucasus,” Amir-Abdollahian said at a press briefing. “We have serious concerns about the presence of terrorists and Zionists in this region.”

Israel supplies important weapons to Azerbaijan. According to the Israel Hayom newspaper, Baku is considering purchasing Israel’s Arrow-3 missile defense system. During its six-week war with Armenia for control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region last year, Azerbaijan deployed Israeli-made surveillance drones to the battlefield.

Earlier this week, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Leyla Abdullayeva rebuffed Iran’s repeated claims that Israeli troops are in the country.

“We reject the allegations of the presence of third parties near the Azerbaijani-Iranian border. Such allegations are completely unfounded, ”Abdullayeva said on Monday.

Tensions have increased between Iran and neighboring Azerbaijan in recent weeks. In mid-September, Baku held joint military exercises with Turkey and Pakistan near the 700-kilometer (435-mile) border that Azerbaijan shares with Iran. Tehran responded by launching its own military exercises on Friday, prompting Turkey to announce plans for military exercises with Azerbaijan this week.

In an interview with Turkish news agency Anadolu, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev denounced Iranian war games and asked: “Why now, and why at our border?”

Another sign of tension between the two neighbors, Iranian news agency Tasnim reported on Tuesday that Azerbaijan had closed a mosque in the Azerbaijani capital linked to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.


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