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Israeli defense chief Gallant visits Azerbaijan to boost military ties

The expected visit of Israeli Defense Minister Minister Yoav Gallant in Baku reflects deepening of ties and shared security interests, mainly on Iran, between the two countries.
Israel's Defence Minister Yoav Gallant (2ndR) reviews the Greek guard of honor prior his meeting with his Greek counterpart in Athens, on May 4, 2023. (Photo by Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP) (Photo by ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is slated to fly to Baku on Wednesday evening for a two-day visit to meet Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov, State Border Guard Commander Elchin Guliyev and other senior Azeri security officials.

A statement issued by Gallant’s office said the visit will focus on bolstering Israel's strategic ties in diplomacy, security and technology, including "widening defense and industrial cooperation between the countries.” Gallant also plans to discuss strengthening regional stability. The visit is the latest public expression of the rapidly expanding ties between the two countries. 

Israel and Azerbaijan have maintained close relations for several years in multiple areas, including energy and security. The rehabilitation of ties between Israel and Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan, some two years ago also contributed to the expansion of bilateral relations.

Israel buys oil from Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan buys Israeli weapons. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Israel provided 69% of Baku’s major arms imports in 2016-2020, accounting for 17% of Israel's arms exports over that period. According to Azeri officials at the time, Azerbaijan used Israeli-made drones in 2020 during its territorial war with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Israel values its security ties with Azerbaijan principally for its location on Iran’s northern border.

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