Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 160

On a two-day visit to Tehran, Azerbaijani foreign minister Hassan Hassanov conferred with Iran’s president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, parliament chairman Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, and oil minister Gholam Reza Aqazadeh. The agenda included Iran’s participation with a 10 percent stake in Azerbaijan’s multi billion Shah-Deniz oil and gas project, possible Iranian investment in overhauling a major Azerbaijani oil-rig manufacturing plant, linking the railroads of the two countries. The Iranians agreed to continue gas deliveries and humanitarian assistance to Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave, isolated by Armenian forces.

Hassanov also called for the opening of an Azerbaijani consulate in Iranian Azerbaijan’s capital Tabriz, which Iran has delayed out of concern over potential Azeri irredentism. Tehran officials for their part reportedly complained over recent arrests of Azerbaijani Islamic activists accused of links with Iranian intelligence; and Nateq-Nuri incriminated adverse "propaganda" about Iran in some Azerbaijani media, urging Baku to "cut off the hands of these elements." (Reuter, IRNA, Tehran TV, August 27.) A further sour note in the relations stems from Iranian attacks on Azerbaijan’s friendly relations with Israel. Tehran has more than once described those relations as an obstacle to closer relations with Baku. Last week, Hassanov thanked the outgoing Israeli ambassador to Azerbaijan, Eliezer Yotvat, for his performance of an "uneasy mission." "We don’t conceal that we rely on the Israeli lobby in the U.S.," Hassanov was quoted as saying (Turan, August 21)

Tajik Government Troops on Counteroffensive.