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TEHRAN, March 18 (Itar-Tass) — Iran regards as groundless accusations, put forth against it by the Azerbaijan National Security Ministry.
The Iranian English language TV channel Press-TV reports that Azerbaijan Ambassador in Tehran Dzhavanshir Akhundov was summoned to the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Saturday where a resolute protest was expressed to him in this connection.
The public relations centre of the Azerbaijan National Security Ministry reported last Wednesday an arrest of a group of Azerbaijan citizens, secretly cooperating with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
“As a result of urgent measures, the ministry arrested 22 people, charged with espionage to the detriment of sovereignty and security of Azerbaijan, with state treason and other grave crimes,” the report said.
It noted that “these people were recruited by Iranian Revolutionary Guards and were engaged in espionage on their assignments, collecting and transmitting information as well as recruiting other people, capable of helping representatives of Iranian secret services”.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry pointed to the Azerbaijan ambassador at the meeting to “efforts, taken by Zionist (Israeli) regime in various countries to discredit Iran”. The diplomat was informed of Tehran’s deepest regret in connection with the fact that Azerbaijan turned to be involved in these gambles, Press-TV reports.
Azerbaijan Defence Minister Safar Abiev came to Tehran on a visit early this week. He assured that “not a single country can egg Azerbaijan on Iran and use the Azerbaijan territory for a threat and an attack on the Islamic Republic”. This notwithstanding, relations between Tehran and Baku noticeably deteriorated since the start of this year.
Iranian officials claim that Israeli secret services conduct anti-Iranian activities in the Azerbaijan territory, including attempts on the life of Iranian researchers, working in the sphere of nuclear technologies.
Iran expressed serious anxiety late last February in connection with the conclusion of a major Azerbaijan-Israeli deal on the delivery of military goods worth 1.6 billion US dollars.