Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Mnatsakan Safaryan (right) meets US Deputy Special Envoy for Iran Abram Paley, Yerevan, April 2, 2024.

US Iran Envoy Reveals Trip To Armenia, Region

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YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — US Deputy Special Envoy for Iran Abram Paley has met with senior Armenian officials in Yerevan during a tour of the three South Caucasus countries, it emerged on April 2.

Armenia was apparently the first stop of the regional tour revealed by Paley in a series of tweets.

“In Yerevan, I had insightful meetings with Armenia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs [Mnatsakan Safaryan,] National Security Council, Central Bank, and State Revenue Committee on Iran, border security, sanctions enforcement, and Armenia’s economic and foreign policy diversification,” he wrote on the X social media platform.

None of those Armenian agencies issued statements on the meetings with Paley. The policy “diversification” cited by the latter is a euphemism used by the Armenian government in its ongoing efforts to forge closer ties with the West amid the continuing deterioration of Armenia’s relations with Russia. In recent months, Iran has repeatedly expressed unease over the pro-Western tilt in Yerevan’s foreign policy.

Paley posted similar messages on his talks in Georgia and Azerbaijan. As well as holding “fruitful discussions” with Azerbaijani officials, he met with Israel’s ambassador in Baku, George Deek. He said they discussed “our close coordination to address concerns about the Iranian regime’s destabilizing behavior in the region.”

“Wonderful to hear about Israel’s historical and cultural ties to Azerbaijan,” added the US diplomat.

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Israel has long been one of Azerbaijan’s main suppliers of weapons and other military hardware. Those supplies continued during and after the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Visiting Israel in March 2023, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov thanked the Jewish state for supporting Azerbaijan during the six-week war. His then Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen reportedly declared that the two nations will form a “united front” against Iran.

The close Azerbaijani-Israeli ties are one of the reasons for lingering tensions between Azerbaijan and Iran.

Tehran has also warned against any “geopolitical” border changes in the South Caucasus in response to Baku’s demands for an extraterritorial corridor to its Nakhichevan exclave that would pass through Syunik, the sole Armenian province bordering Iran. Iranian leaders say they would not tolerate attempts to strip the Islamic Republic of the common border and transport links with Armenia.

The Armenian and Iranian governments have pledged to help increase bilateral trade. Their joint commission on economic cooperation most recently met in Tehran in February. Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan visited the Iranian capital three weeks later.

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