Iran envoy summoned over Peres visit

Ambassador to Azerbaijan recalled to Teheran for consultations over president's trip to Muslim state.

peres 248.88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
peres 248.88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Iran's ambassador to Azerbaijan has been summoned back to his country for consultations following the visit to Baku by President Shimon Peres, news agencies in Teheran reported Monday. In recent weeks, Iranian officials had tried to sabotage Peres's trip by exerting pressure on Baku. According to various Internet reports, some of the elders of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan had protested the visit, but the Foreign Ministry officials in had attributed the statement to meddling by Iran. At the conclusion of his state visit to Azerbaijan on Monday, Peres expressed appreciation not only for the warm hospitality that had been given to him, his entourage of ministers and staff and the 60-member business delegation that accompanied him, but also for the true friendship demonstrated by Azerbaijan in its steadfast refusal to capitulate to Iranian threats. Peres was well aware of the pressure which Iran had exerted on neighboring Azerbaijan in an attempt to sabotage the visit. Instead of yielding to this pressure, Azerbaijan had decided to enhance its relations with Israel, he noted. As part of this enhancement, Peres, together with all the Israelis in his party, participated in an Azerbaijan-Israel business forum at which Azeri President Ilham Aliyev called on Israeli business people to invest in his country. "We are greatly in need of Israel's advanced technology," he said. Before leaving Azerbaijan, Peres spoke to hundreds of Muslim students at the University of Baku where he emphasized Israel's desire for peace and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's willingness to immediately resume negotiations with the Palestinians. In a reference to Iran, Peres said that what is happening there now reveals the true face of Iran. Peres was pleasantly surprised when students at the university's School for Languages and Middle East Studies posed questions in fluent Hebrew. His last stop before flying to Kazakhstan was the Baku synagogue, where he addressed a huge crowd of Azeri Jews, to whom he explained the significance of relations between Azerbaijan and Israel. Arthur Lenk, Israel's ambassador to Azerbaijan, characterized the visit as an historic milestone in relations between the two countries. It is important he said, to realize that Azerbaijan, a Muslim country bordering Iran, had decided to strengthen its strategic relationship with Israel. "We should seize this opportunity with both hands," he said. Several cooperation agreements between Israel and Azerbaijan were signed during the visit.