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405 words - April 23, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
An Azerbaijani delegation headed by Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov paid a visit to Palestine and Israel from April 21 to 23. Thanks to Azerbaijan's non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Mr. Mammadyarov held discussions about the Middle East peace process. He also tackled a number of cooperation topics, notably trade, tourism and culture.
Palestine was the Azerbaijani's first destination. He met with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and counterpart Riyad Al Maliki. The two parties acknowledged the untapped potential of the bilateral ties and "agreed to advance relations across various spheres." Mr. Al Maliki welcomed Azerbaijan's growing influence as beneficial to Palestinian interests, chiefly within the international organizations like the United Nations (UN) and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Mr. Mammadyarov emphasized that Azerbaijan "is interested to see the soonest solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict," and reaffirmed "Azerbaijan's support to the two-state solution of the conflict with East Al Quds as the capital of Palestine."
On April 22, Israeli President Shimon Peres welcomed Mr. Mammadyarov at his residence in Jerusalem and reminded this was the first visit by a Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan in Israel since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992. The two countries have been "strengthening and deepening (their) strategic relations" for more than two decades, said Mr. Peres. "Azerbaijan is a great country with a great future which is beginning to fulfill the potential of its natural and human wealth," the Israeli leader said before he added that "Israel sees Azerbaijan as an important ally and a true friend of Israel, (…) and as a key country (which) takes a clear stand against terror, against war."
With a bilateral trade that reached USD 3 billion annually including energy, the two countries believe there is still room for greater cooperation. In a meeting with Avigdor Lieberman, Chairman of Foreign Relations and Defense Committee of the Israeli Knesset, Mr. Mammadyarov seemed to draw a parallel between the Israel-Palestine and the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflicts, stressing "the necessity to change the current status-quo as the unchanged status-quo remains as the main obstacle to the regional development."
If the cordial ambiance of these meetings was no surprise, DiploNews noted the depth of the discussions, possibly resulting from the fact that Azerbaijan shares a border with Iran. Besides President Peres extended an official invitation to his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev to visit Israel.
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