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Ali Hasanov: Israel important strategic partner

Azerbaijan views Israel as a “very important” ally and strategic partner, Ali Hasanov, head of the Public and Political Affairs Department of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration Ali Hasanov has said, according to The Jerusalim Post. Mr Hasanov met an Israeli delegation led by Acre Mayor Shimon Lankry in Baku. He said the ties between his country and Israel will continue to develop and flourish “despite the pressures”. “We have relations with all countries of the world according to our interests,” he said, including countries that are rivals of one another. He pointed to Azerbaijan’s ties with the US and Russia as one example and its ties with Israel and Iran, as well as with Israel and Turkey as another.

Mr Hasanov, who accompanied President Ilham Aliyev for meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this month and said that at no time did anyone there ask Azerbaijan to cut or cool down its rapidly developing relations with Israel.

According to The Jerusalim Post, with Israel buying 40% of its oil from Azerbaijan, and considering that country’s geography, it is clear why ties between the two states are so important for Jerusalem.

Mr Hasanov said that among the reasons Israel is so significant to Azerbaijan is because it is a very important state in the Middle East and also because of its advanced technology.

Also, he said, good ties with Israel help Azerbaijan in Washington, both through Jewish groups active in the capital and through the many discussions Israeli leaders have with their American counterparts.

The countries also have a very robust defense relationship, said the newspaper.

Mr Hasanov noted that it was “very important” for Israel to develop ties with Islamic states, and that Azerbaijan – a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference – can be an example of an Islamic state that has good relations with Israel.

Mr Hasanov said the ties are an outgrowth of a strong historical relationship between Azerbaijanis and Jews, with the Jewish community in that country going back some 2,500 years.

The relations can show other Muslim states that even if there are things with which there are disagreements with Israel, there are other areas where there are agreements and it is possible to cooperate, he added.

There are an estimated 9,000 Jews in Azerbaijan, and tens of thousands of Azerbaijani Jews in Israel.