Azerbaijan: Date Set for Israeli President Shimon Peres' Trip to Baku
Israeli President Shimon Peres will travel to Baku on June 28 for a state visit that has sparked sharp words between Azerbaijan and neighbor Iran.
The announcement was made by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman at a June 3 Moscow press conference, Russian news agencies reported. Israeli business executives will be among the delegation accompanying Peres, Lieberman said.
The news is unlikely to sit well with Tehran. Azerbaijan's southern neighbor recently called on Baku to close Israel's embassy in Baku and charged that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's invitation to Peres showed disrespect to Muslims.
On June 3, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov returned the volley with a reference to Iran's own close ties with Azerbaijani foe, Armenia. "Iran receives Armenian officials at the highest level and Azerbaijan does not discuss these issues," the Trend news agency quoted Mammadyarov as saying.
Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Elkhan Polukhov elaborated on the foreign minister's comments, saying that Tehran "receives those who occupied Azerbaijani territories, destroyed historical monuments and kill Muslims."