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Can Iran And Azerbaijan Finally Patch Up Old Wounds?

Azerbaijan and Iran have agreed to resolve their diplomatic crisis through dialogue amid tensions that erupted last month over exercises near their shared border and a dispute over a possible Israeli military presence in Azerbaijan.

Both sides announced the de-escalation effort on October 13 after they said Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian had spoken by phone the previous evening.

"The sides noted that recent rhetoric has harmed bilateral relations and that any differences should be settled through dialogue," the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

In September, Iran protested and threatened unspecified action over what it alleged was the presence of archenemy Israel in Azerbaijan, which reportedly used Israeli drones last year in an intense battle with Armenia over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Baku has denied that there's an Israeli presence in the country.

Iran's military then staged major exercises near the border with Azerbaijan, further ratcheting up tensions.

Azerbaijani authorities' imposition of customs duties on Iranian truck drivers bound for Armenia has also grated on relations.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said on October 13 that Amir-Abdollahian had stressed that both sides' would like to "avoid misunderstandings and boost relations."

"Tehran and Baku have enemies and the two governments should not give them the opportunity to disrupt relations," Amir-Abdollahian was quoted as saying.

Baku has long bristled at Tehran's backing of Armenia in its decades-long "frozen conflict" with Azerbaijan over the breakaway Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and neighboring districts.

By RFE/RL

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