Zarif holds high-level talks in Azerbaijan amid soaring Baku-Yerevan tensions

May 25, 2021 - 21:7

TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has embarked on a tour of the South Caucasus region amid soaring border tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The chief Iranian diplomat began his tour with a visit to Baku where he met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday.

In the meeting, the two sides expressed content with the growing bilateral ties in recent years, calling for further promotion of mutual relations, according to a statement issued by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

“Also on the agenda of the talks were the latest developments pertaining to Tehran-Baku relations, joint economic projects, Iran’s participation in operations to clear mines and reconstruct liberated areas, the latest developments related to a statement on a ceasefire between Armenia and the Azerbaijan Republic and the recent border tensions between the two countries, communication corridors, rail links between Iran, Azerbaijan and Armenia, the necessity of implementing a six-way regional cooperation initiative along with other issues of mutual interest,” the statement added.

On Monday, Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, said Zarif will also pay a visit to Armenia.

Zarif’s tour came after border tensions escalated between Armenia and Azerbaijan, with Yerevan accusing Baku of encroaching on its territories. 

In mid-May, Armenia accused Azerbaijan of advancing into its southern territory. Armenian Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has said Azerbaijan’s armed forces crossed the state border of the Republic of Armenia and advanced as far as 3.5 kilometers in Syunik province. 

“This is unacceptable to the Armenian side, because it represents an encroachment on the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia. It still remains to be seen why such an action was possible, but it should be noted that this is an act of subversive infiltration. It should also be stated that our armed forces responded early this morning with appropriate tactical maneuvers and other necessary measures,” Pashinyan said in a meeting with Armenian military officials.

On the other hand, the Republic of Azerbaijan has confirmed that it deployed troops to areas bordering Armenia but said this deployment occurred inside Azerbaijan’s territories. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry accused “official circles” in Armenia of using border tensions for pre-election purposes.

Khatibzadeh has said Iran was “closely and sensitively” following border tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan and hoped that the dispute would be settled in peaceful ways.

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