Senior officials of Azerbaijan and Iran signed yesterday in Tehran a memorandum of understanding on Iranian gas supplies to Azerbaijan’s exclave, the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan. The memorandum covers a 30 year period and includes other Iranian deliveries to Nakhichevan as well. A special gas pipeline will be laid from Iran to Nakhichevan. The delegations also agreed to form bilateral commissions for cooperation in oil and gas, transportation, telecommunications, trade, customs, banking, and other sectors. Iran’s first vice president, Hassan Habibi, is due to visit Azerbaijan shortly. (Turan, IRNA, October 7)
Nakhichevan, long a political fief of Azerbaijani president Haidar Aliev, is separated from the heartland of Azerbaijan by a strip of Armenian territory and is blockaded by Armenian Karabakh forces. Iran alone provides a lifeline to Nakhichevan, as it also does for blockaded Armenia. Relations between Azerbaijan and Iran have undergone periodic ups and downs, and seem currently to be on an upswing following Iran’s inclusion in Azerbaijan’s Shah-Deniz oil and gas contract (see Monitor, October 7)
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