By Vugar Khalilov
Azerbaijani Defence Minister Col-Gen Zakir Hasanov has left for a visit to Iran, the Defence Ministry reported on January 25.
Hasanov is visiting the neighboring country at Iranian Army General Staff Chief Lt-Gen Mohammad Hossein Bagheri's invitation.
“Defence Minister Colonel General Z. Hasanov is scheduled to meet with some Iranian state officials and take part in events,” the ministry said.
Azerbaijan and Iran recently discussed the implementation of joint military projects, a source at the Azerbaijani embassy in Iran earlier reported.
At their meeting, Azerbaijani ambassador to Iran Ali Alizada and Iran's Defence and Armed Forces Logistics Minister Mohammad Reza Gharaei Ashtiani stressed that the Azerbaijani and Iranian presidents emphasized the importance of bilateral relations and praised the two countries' close ties.
They also emphasized the importance of Azerbaijan and Iran continuing their cooperation in all areas as friendly and close neighbors. They also focused on military and military-technical cooperation.
The parties also considered the prospects for strengthening effective cooperation, such as the organization of mutual visits and the expansion of information exchange.
It should be noted that after a period of aggravated tensions and a series of regrettable episodes that should have been avoided, Azerbaijani-Iranian relations entered a new age of rapprochement in late 2021.
Iran was one of the 10 signatories of the final declaration of the 15th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) which, amongst many other clauses, incorporated a congratulatory part dedicated to Azerbaijan's victory in the 2020 war and the restoration of its territorial integrity. On top of that, a new gas swap deal was signed by Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Iran, which is perceived as another indication that the recent political rupture has been left behind.
On November 28, 2021, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan signed a trilateral agreement on swapping gas supplies in Ashgabat. The signing ceremony took place in the presence of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi.
The agreement envisages deliveries of 1.5 to 2 billion cubic meters of gas each year, with Turkmenistan supplying gas to Iran and Iran delivering an equal quantity of gas to Azerbaijan. Thus, under the trilateral deal, Turkmenistan will sell 5-6 million cubic meters of gas per day to Azerbaijan. These volumes are expected to increase in the future.
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