government building in baku, azerbaijan_370.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, currently visiting Azerbaijan, dismissed
reports that Israel had obtained air bases there to assist in an attack on Iran
as “science fiction” and a “James Bond story.”
“Such reports are from the
sphere of science fiction and do not correspond with the truth,” he told
reporters in Baku.
Foreign Policy magazine ran an article last month
claiming that Israel had gained access to Azerbaijan airfields to facilitate a
possible attack on Iran.
“The Israelis have bought an airfield,” the
report quoted an unnamed US official as saying, “and the airfield is called
“People with a very rich imagination publish such stories,”
Liberman said after meeting Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
saying he did discuss Iran with Aliyev, Liberman provided no details about those
Before going into that meeting, Liberman told Israel Radio that
some journalists see too many James Bond movies, and that often there is “no
connection between stories and reality.” That, he said, was the case regarding
the reports about Israeli access to Azeri airfields.
The foreign minister
acknowledged that Israel and Azerbaijan – which is strategically located on
Iran’s northern border – have good, stable relations, and he described it as an
“important country which is now a member of the UN Security
“Relations with Azerbaijan could not be better. They are
trusting and productive,” he said.
The Vestnik Kavkaza website, which
covers the Caucasus, reported that Liberman also discussed Iran with his
Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov.
Relations between Azerbaijan
and Iran have been tense in recent months.
Iran has accused Azerbaijan of
assisting Israeli intelligence in allegedly killing Iranian nuclear scientists.
And last month, Azerbaijani security forces arrested several Azeris and Iranians
on suspicion of spying for Iran, plotting to attack Western targets and
smuggling arms from Iran into Azerbaijan.
According to the website of the
Azerbaijan Business Center, Liberman and Mammadyarov also discussed deepening
the countries’ cooperation within international organizations.
significant as far as Israel is concerned because of Azerbaijan’s two-year
temporary membership on the UN Security Council.
In addition to
diplomatic meetings, Liberman visited the Center for Studies of Israel and the
Middle East at the Azerbaijan University for Foreign Languages.
countries have a flourishing trade relationship, with a $4 billion turnover last
year. Israel imports about a third of its oil from Azerbaijan, and Baku –
according to foreign reports – recently inked a $1.6 billion arms deal with
Jerusalem.Reuters contributed to this report.
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