(Photo by Ariel Hermoni/Israeli Ministry of Defense on 13 July, 2023 )
Gallant with Ilham Aliyev

Before departing, Minister Gallant noted he would present to the Azeris the “global danger of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.”

By Ben Rappaport, United with Israel

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday met in Baku, Azerbaijan Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

According to an Israeli statement, the two “discussed various regional and global developments.” They “also discussed avenues to further strengthen strategic ties and cooperate in the face of common challenges.” In addition, they “touched on areas of security and industrial cooperation.”

The statement noted “the discussion built on the previous meeting held between the leaders this year, within the framework of the Munich Security Conference.”

Gallant expressed his appreciation for the president’s “leadership and personal commitment to deepening the bond between their countries, starting with the opening of the Azerbaijani embassy in Israel.”

The leaders also emphasized shared goals for “greater security, economic and technological exchanges,” and a common desire for “regional peace and stability.”

Before departing for Azerbaijan, Gallant told reporters the visit was “another step up in the ever-tightening relations between Israel and Azerbaijan.”

He said the visit “comes against the background of a period filled with security challenges.”

“I will accurately present to the Azeris the global danger of nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran. I will detail to them the dangerous actions that Iran is carrying out within Israel’s borders and trying to carry out inside Israel and throughout the Middle East,” he added.

In March, Azerbaijan, which borders Iran, became the first Shiite Muslim country to post an ambassador and open an embassy in Israel. The move was followed in April by a visit to Azerbaijan by Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, and a visit to the country in May by Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

Israel has operated an embassy in Baku since 1993 and was one of the first countries to recognize Azerbaijani independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

On Monday, Azerbaijani security services said they had thwarted an attack on a foreign embassy in the country. Though left unnamed, Azerbaijani media noted footage showed the suspect had been surveilling the area of the Israeli embassy.

“It was established that this foreign national arrived to the Republic of Azerbaijan from a foreign country with the intention of committing the above mentioned criminal acts and in order to identify the coordinates of a third country embassy and plan a terroristic act,” the State Security Service said.

The suspect “conducted a surveillance of the embassy building, attempted to identify and enroll individuals to participate in the terrorist act, obtained firearms and explosives, and conspired with other persons to receive financial support for this activity,” the statement added.