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Israel's new embassy in Turkmenistan sends message to Iran

After a visit to Azerbaijan, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen traveled to Turkmenistan to inaugurate Israel’s permanent embassy in Ashgabat.
Shlomi Amsalem/GPO/Israeli Foreign Ministry

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen visited Turkmenistan on Thursday to inaugurate Israel’s embassy in Ashgabat, as the country considers opening an embassy in Israel.

Cohen arrived to Turkmenistan Wednesday evening after a two-day visit to Azerbaijan, and was received at the Ashgabat airport by Turkmenistan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Berdyniyaz Myatiev. It was the first visit in 29 years by an Israeli minister. The first and last such visit took place in 1994, a year after the two countries established diplomatic ties, when then-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres traveled to the country. 

Pressured by Iran, Turkmenistan had refused to approve the nomination of an Israeli ambassador for several years until 2013. Since then, the Israeli ambassadors have been stationed in the Turkmen capital, but operated from hotel rooms, awaiting the construction of a permanent embassy. Cohen inaugurated the building on Thursday. In the region, Israel has two other permanent embassies: in Kazakhstan and in Uzbekistan. 

Israel considers Cohen's visit in Turkmenistan of the utmost strategic importance, as Ashgabat is situated very close to the country’s border with Iran. The same is true for Israel’s relations with Azerbaijan, which also neighbors Iran. 

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