Yaalon makes suprise visit to Azerbaijan, first by Israeli defense minister

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Moshe Yaalon became the first Israeli defense minister to visit the central Asian country of Azerbaijan.

Yaalon began an unannounced two-day visit on Wednesday, landing in Baku for meetings with top government officials.

Azerbaijan, which has had bilateral relations with Israel for many years,  is located next to Iran.

“I am happy to be hosted here in the historical first visit of an Israeli defense minister to Azerbaijan,” Yaalon said in Baku, in remarks that were posted on Twitter. “Bilateral relations between us are fruitful, and there is a strategic relationship between the countries and cooperation in various fields.”

Yaalon also is scheduled to meet with members of the small Jewish community of Azerbaijan, according to the Jerusalem Post.

He also will inaugurate the Israeli pavilion at the Adex international defense industry exhibition, which is being attended by 15 Israeli defense companies.