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Photo by: REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Iran tops agenda as Liberman travels to Azerbaijan
By HERB KEINON
22/04/2012
Trip comes just a month after report alleging Israel gained access to Azerbaijani airfields for a possible attack on Iran.
 
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman left Sunday for Azerbaijan and meetings with the top leadership of the strategic country on Iran’s northern border.

Liberman visited the country in 2010, and this will be his second trip since becoming foreign minister. His trip comes just a month after an article in the US magazine Foreign Policy cast the countries growing ties into the international spotlight. That article, denied by both countries, alleged Israel gained access to Azerbaijani airfields for a possible attack on Iran.

During the trip, reported last week in The Jerusalem Post, Liberman will meet Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, Deputy Prime Minister Yaqub Eyyubov, and Emergency Situations Minister Kamaladdin Heydarov.

Liberman will also attend a ceremony marking 20 years of Azerbaijan-Israel relations, now in a boom period.

Azerbaijan supplies Israel with a large percentage of its oil needs, and Israel – according to foreign reports – recently inked a $1.6 billion arms deal with Baku.

In March, Azerbaijani officials announced the arrest of 22 people on suspicion of spying for Iran. The 22, according to the Azerbaijani national security minister, were said to have received orders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to commit terrorist acts against the embassies of the US, Israel and other Western countries.

Iran has accused Azerbaijan of helping Israel assassinate nuclear scientists inside the country. Liberman’s visit comes just days after a visit by Agriculture Minister Orit Noked.

In addition to traveling to Azerbaijan, Liberman will also stop in Switzerland for a meeting with Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter.

Those talks are expected to focus on Switzerland’s continued financial and energy ties with Iran. Switzerland has not frozen the assets of the Iranian Central Bank, and the country did not follow the lead of the European Union and embargo Iranian oil. Switzerland is not a member of the EU.
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