(Communicated by the Office of the President)
President Shimon Peres, this morning (Monday, 22 April 2013), at his residence in Jerusalem, held a diplomatic working meeting with Azerbaijan Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov. The meeting took place at the beginning of a historic visit by the Foreign Minister, the first by a Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan in Israel since diplomatic relations between the two countries began.
During the meeting the two agreed on strengthening and deepening the strategic relations between the two countries and President Peres extended an official invitation to the President of Azerbaijan to visit Israel.
At the beginning of the meeting President Peres welcomed Foreign Minister Mammadyarov and said, "I want to welcome you and the very important delegation that came with you. It's a historic visit, the first time that a foreign minister of Azerbaijan has visited Israel. It serves to further promote our already, very good relations. Azerbaijan is a great country with a great future which is beginning to fulfill the potential of its natural and human wealth."
President Peres addressed the issue of Iran, which shares a border with Azerbaijan, and said, "What is today considered as the greatest danger to peace in the world. I know the policy of Azerbaijan is of peace, friendship, development but also of independence. With your unique geographic location there is no doubt that you already are and will continue to be a key country in this part of the world Azerbaijan takes a clear stand against terror, against war."
During the meeting President Peres addressed the issue of Iran and said that Iran forms the greatest danger to peace and stability in the world – it funds terror, develops nuclear weapons and casts a heavy shadow over the entire Middle East. President Peres added that Israel sees Azerbaijan as an important ally and a true friend of Israel and so Israel works to strengthen and deepen the cooperation between the two countries including in the field of trade which has reached $125 million a year between the two countries and when energy is added to the calculation reaches $3 billion a year.
Foreign Minister Mammadyarov thanked President Peres for his welcome and said, "Thank you very much for all the kind words you've said about my country, for your support and words of goodwill. Our country is not in an easy neighborhood and you correctly indicate that we believe in having a good neighborhood for the development of the state." He added that Azerbaijan is building itself as an independent, multicultural country. Israel is also located in a very volatile neighborhood and one of the ideas for building good relations is that you recognize our problems with understanding. I believe there is a huge opportunity to expand our cooperation and it will be very helpful for the two nations."