Washington briefing: Israel, Azerbaijan to step up military cooperation

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Friday July 03, 2009

An Israeli-made armored jeep displayed by the Azerbaijani army. Azerbaijan State TV

Washington - An Israeli company will launch production of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Azerbaijan, and the two countries will cooperate in other military areas, including satellite technology, Azerbaijani news agencies reported. The deals were reportedly finalized as Israeli President Shimon Peres visited Azerbaijan on June 28-29.

Since the opening of the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline in 2006, Azerbaijan became one of the largest crude-oil suppliers to Israel. Israel has in turn emerged as a major arms supplier to Azerbaijan. Supplies have already including artillery systems, communications equipment, and UAVs.

Although Azerbaijan continues to threaten a military confrontation with Armenia, and during his visit Mr. Peres reportedly promised that Israel and the Jewish Diaspora "will do all [they] can to support Azerbaijan's territorial integrity," there was no immediate reaction from Armenia.

Mr. Peres' visit took place despite open opposition expressed by senior Iranian officials. And street protests in Baku were quickly dispersed by police. Still, according to the Islam.ru news service, officials decided not to hoist flags of the visiting leader's country around Baku, as they customarily do, apparently wary of incidents.

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