'Reports Baku gave Israel airfields are fiction'

On visit to Azerbaijan, Liberman slams as "James Bond story" a report that Baku had allowed J'lem use of airfields for Iran strike.

By
April 23, 2012 21:03
2 minute read.
Government building in Baku, Azerbaijan

government building in baku, azerbaijan_370. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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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.

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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 Azerbaijan.”

“People with a very rich imagination publish such stories,” Liberman said after meeting Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

While saying he did discuss Iran with Aliyev, Liberman provided no details about those talks.

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 Council.”

“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.

This is 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.

The two 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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