Israel to open embassy in Turkmenistan capital, few km away from Iran

Jerusalem, Apr 19 (EFE).- Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen will travel to Turkmenistan on Wednesday night on a diplomatic mission to open an embassy in Ashgabat, just a few kilometers from Israel’s archrival, Iran.

The Israeli foreign ministry confirmed that the embassy would be inaugurated on Thursday as Cohen becomes the first Israeli minister to visit the Central Asian country in nearly three decades.

The last visit by an Israeli minister to Turkmenistan was in 1994.

The new Israeli diplomatic mission will be in the Turkmenistan capital, just about 30 kilometers from the northeastern border of Iran, which stretches more than 1,000 km.

Cohen is expected to meet Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedov and Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov.

He will also interact with the local Jewish community.

Iran has become Israel’s archrival as the countries are locked in a covert war.

There have been many cyber strikes, attacks on Israeli-owned ships in the Persian Gulf, and Israeli bombings on Iranian positions in Syria.

In 1994, then-Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres visited Turkmenistan three years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which had ruled the oil-rich state.

Israel already had an ambassador in Ashgabat for a decade who worked out of hotels and a temporary office.

Cohen is currently in Azerbaijan across the Caspian Sea from Turkmenistan.

In Baku, he met with Azeri President Ilham Aliev to discuss regional security and the fight against terrorism, the Israeli foreign ministry said.

In March, Azerbaijan inaugurated an embassy in Tel Aviv, thus becoming the first Shia Muslim country to have a mission in Israel.

Cohen said the embassy would further strengthen the bilateral security, political, and economic ties.

Cohen arrived in Azerbaijan at the head of an economic delegation that included representatives from defense industries, cyber, homeland security, agriculture, and water management.

Israel and Azerbaijan have had diplomatic relations for over 30 years, and Israel has had an embassy in Baku since 1993.

The two sides share a strong bond in terms of security, with Israel being one of the top arms exporters to Azerbaijan, which supplies oil to the Jewish state.

The Caucasian country already had trade and tourism offices in the Jewish state.

According to Israeli media, the decision to open an embassy was delayed for fear of reprisals from Iran, with whom it shares borders.

Israel is fervently opposed to Iran’s nuclear program.

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