Iran Recalls Ambassador to Azerbaijan Over Israeli President Visit

JERUSALEM (REUTERS)–Iran’s ambassador to Azerbaijan was summoned for consultations on Monday following a high-level visit to Baku by Israeli President Shimon Peres that same day.

The envoy was recalled due to both the nature of Peres’ visit and the unspecified “threats” Israel’s ambassador in Baku has voiced towards Iran.

Two weeks ago, Iran’s chief of staff Maj. Gen. Hasan Firuzabadi visited Azerbaijan in an effort to preclude the Israeli President’s visit, informing Baku that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wanted the meeting to be cancelled.

But the Azeris refused, stating that just as Baku has never tried to interfere with Tehran’s ties with Armenia, despite the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Tehran should refrain from interfering with their ties with Israel.

“Azerbaijan has proven that it is a true friend of Israel,” said Peres on Monday, “and I am happy that, despite the grave threats from Iran aimed at canceling and sabotaging my visit, Azerbaijan did not succumb to the pressure and decided to enhance its strategic relations with Israel.”

Peres visited Kazakhstan Tuesday for a meeting with President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Despite claiming that he would not raise the issue of the imprisoned Israeli businessman Dr. Boris Sheinkman, Peres touched on the sensitive subject and requested the prisoner’s release, according to Israel’s Globes Online.

Sheinkman, 62, was arrested by Kazakhstan’s secret service three months ago on allegations of bribing senior defense officials in order to promote deals with Israeli defense firms. Kazakhstan’s Deputy Defense Minister Kazhimurat Mayermanov was said to have taken bribes from Israeli companies, and was subsequently arrested as well.

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