Azeris Protest Alleged Chinese Arms to Armenia

BAKU (Reuters)–Azerbaijan on Tuesday accused China of supplying sophisticated weaponry and training to its arch-foe Armenia–and demanded Beijing recall the alleged arms shipmen’s.

Vafa Guluzade–top foreign affairs adviser to President Haydar Aliyev–said China had supplied Typhoon rocket systems to Armenia–which has been locked in conflict with Azerbaijan for more than a decade over the disputed Karabakh region.

"In violation of international norms and agreemen’s–China has given Armenia eight Typhoon rocket systems. Right now–Chinese instructors are in Armenia teaching the Armenia’s how to use them," Guluzade told Reuters.

"We demand that China immediately recall the Typhoon systems," he said.

A Defense Ministry spokesman’said the surface-to-surface rockets had a range of 37 to 50 miles.

A source in Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said the Chinese ambassador in Baku had been handed an official protest regarding the arms shipmen’s.

A Chinese embassy spokesman told Reuters it would answer the note in several days–but declined to comment on whether there had been an arms shipment.

Armenia’s Foreign Ministry said it had no information on the matter and that it would release a statement later.

Azerbaijan has often complained of Russian arms shipmen’s to Armenia.

"Now there is an alliance between Russia and China against the West–Russia is trying to pull China into the Caucasus conflict," Guluzade told Reuters by telephone.

According to Guluzade–Armenian Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsyan procured the Typhoon installations last summer during a visit to China with the Russian defense minister.

He said this was a sign that the supplying of the Typhoons was arranged with the help of the Russia’s.

Guluzade said the Chinese ambassador had earlier told the Azeri Foreign Ministry that Sargsyan bought the Typhoons from a private company and that the government was not involved.

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