Azeri Defense Chief in Moscow for Talks with Russian Counterpart

BAKU (APA)–Azerbaijan’s Defense Minister is on a working visit to Moscow for talks with his Russian counterpart on expanding military cooperation between the two countries.

Defense Minister Safar Abiyev met with Russian Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov Friday to discuss bilateral cooperation between their defense ministries, Itar-Tass quoted Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Aleksey Kuznetsov as saying as saying.

“Today, Russian Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov met with Azerbaijani Defense Minister General-Colonel Safar Abiyev who recently visited Russia,” Kuznetsov said. “The sides discussed current and prospective issues related to relations between the two ministries.”

Kuznetsov said Abiyev and Serdyukov were also scheduled to discuss claims circulating in the Azeri media alleging Russia’supplied large quantities of military hardware and other weapons to Armenia last year.

Azeri media reported on January 9 that that Moscow had supplied Yerevan with $800 million worth of tanks, armored personnel carriers, rockets, grenade launchers and ammunition via a Russian army base in Armenia. An Azerbaijani news website, Mediaforum.az, shortly after published scanned copies of what it called a document certifying the transfer of the weapons.

The document, signed by a deputy commander of Russia’s North Caucasus Military District, contained a long list of armamen’s allegedly handed over to the Armenian military. Those included 21 battle tanks, 50 armored vehicles, about 40 artillery systems and more than 4,000 automatic rifles along with large quantities of ammunition.

The allegations were immediately dismissed by both Yerevan and Moscow. But Baku has continued to press the issue. Its foreign ministry has issued a strong complaint to Moscow over the matter.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week said he would reiterate assurances that the allegations are false during his upcoming visit to Baku.

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