Iran on Friday criticized Azerbaijan for rebuffing a call to “explain” comments made on March 29 by Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on the occasion of the opening of Azerbaijan’s embassy in Israel.
Cohen said he had agreed with his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov on the need to form a “united front” against Iran.
“We asked the government of Azerbaijan to explain the words of the foreign minister of the Zionist regime regarding the agreement with Azerbaijan to ‘form a united front against Iran, ‘” said Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani on Friday.
“The spokesperson of Azerbaijan evaded the question and leveled new accusations against Iran. Is the continuation of [Azerbaijan’s] silence not an implicit affirmation of statements made by Baku’s strategic partner?” Kanaani continued.
“The criminal Zionist regime has no other purpose than to create differences and divisions in the Islamic Ummah [world] by approaching Muslim countries in order to realize its expansionist ambitions. We advise our Muslim brothers and sisters in Azerbaijan to be aware of the real intentions of the Zionist enemy,” he added.
Although Azerbaijan established relations with Israel in 1991, it hadn’t opened an embassy until last week.
Cohen called the opening of the embassy “further evidence of the strengthening of relations between the countries,” adding, “Azerbaijan is a Muslim country and its strategic location makes the relationship between us of great importance and great potential.”
The Israeli foreign minister also said that he would make a diplomatic visit to Baku “soon,” accompanied by a “large economic delegation which will further deepen the commercial ties between Israel and Azerbaijan.”
Azerbaijan, strategically located in the Caucasus region, shares a border with Iran and supplies Israel with 40% of its oil.
Although a Shi’ite Muslim country like Iran, it has had tense relations with its much larger neighbor to the south, rejecting its ‘Islamic Revolution’ and calling for autonomy for Iranian Azerbaijanis.
According to local media reports, on Feb. 1, Azerbaijan’s Interior Ministry detained 40 people in Baku and other parts of the country suspected of spying for Iran.
On Jan. 29, Baku ordered the evacuation of staff and family members from its Iranian embassy after a gunman killed a security guard and wounded two others there two days earlier, an attack Baku labeled an “act of terrorism.”