UPDATE - Israel welcomes Azerbaijan’s decision to open embassy in Tel Aviv

UPDATE - Israel welcomes Azerbaijan’s decision to open embassy in Tel Aviv

Israeli foreign minister welcomes his Azerbaijani counterpart in West Jerusalem

ADDS STATEMENTS FROM AZERBAIJANI FOREIGN MINISTRY ON FOREIGN MINISTERS MEETING AND MEETING WITH ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER

By Abdelraouf Arnaout

JERUSALEM (AA) - Israel on Wednesday hailed Azerbaijan’s decision to open its embassy in Tel Aviv, after 30 years of diplomatic relations between the two sides.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met with his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov in West Jerusalem before the opening ceremony on Wednesday.

“I am pleased to host the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Bayramov Jeyhun on the occasion of the opening of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Israel, which is an important occasion for our two countries and peoples,” Cohen said in a joint press conference.

“Azerbaijan is a strategic partner of Israel, as we cooperate closely on a very large number of issues, including regional security, energy and tourism,” he added.

For his part, Bayramov stated: "Israel was one of the first countries to recognize the independence of Azerbaijan. During the past thirty years, relations between the two countries were strong on the basis of dialogue and mutual understanding.”

“We discussed ways to enhance economic cooperation, which has promising opportunities," Bayramov added. “114 Israeli companies operate in Azerbaijan, while there have been direct flights between the two countries since 1993.”

The official expressed his appreciation for “Israel's support for Azerbaijan's sovereignty and its geographical unity over the nearly 30 years of Armenian occupation.”

The parties expressed their readiness to further actively develop the political dialogue at various levels on all spectrums of strategic bilateral relations, as well as on international and regional issues.

A statement by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said that, during their meeting, Bayramov informed Cohen about initiatives taken by Baku in the direction of "establishing peace, security and cooperation in the post-conflict period."

"Despite these efforts, he said Armenia continues to cause provocations and undermine the process. Also, the minister informed about demining, large-scale restoration and construction works of the liberated territories, and noted with satisfaction the participation of Israeli companies in this process," the statement said.

Bayramov also held a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, with whom he discussed "cooperation between the two countries in defense, military-technical and other related fields, including regional and international security issues," according to a later statement by the Foreign Ministry.

"Minister Jeyhun Bayramov drew attention to the exceptional role of relations between Azerbaijan and Israel in the field of defense in the current cooperation agenda," the statement said.

The statement further said that Bayramov informed Gallant about the current situation in Karabakh and the construction efforts in the region.

"Minister Yoav Gallant, referring to the successful cooperation experience of the two countries in the defense, military-technical field, stressed the importance of using the existing potential for further expansion of cooperation in this regard," the statement added.

Israel and Azerbaijan have had relations for 30 years, and there has been an Israeli Embassy in Baku since 1993.

*Ikram Kouachi and Burc Eruygur contributed to this report

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