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18 March 2024

Baku Said to Be Preparing to Reopen Tehran Embassy After Attack

After closing following the January 2023 armed attack, Azerbaijan is preparing to reopen its embassy in Tehran, signalling a potential thaw in relations between the two countries.

Baku Said to Be Preparing to Reopen Tehran Embassy After Attack

Image: azernews.az

(RFE/RL) The Azerbaijani Embassy in Tehran is preparing to resume operations, according to Iran's ambassador to Baku, signaling a potential thaw in relations between the two countries.

In a statement to Baku TV, Iranian Ambassador Abbas Musavi said preparations for the reopening are under way, with an Azerbaijani delegation already having made the journey to Tehran. He did not give a specific date for the reopening.

The announcement comes a year after the Azerbaijani Embassy was the scene of an armed assault in January 2023 that resulted in the death of one embassy employee and left two others injured.

The attack, which Baku has called an "act of terrorism," led to a significant downturn in diplomatic relations, prompting Azerbaijan to remove its embassy staff from Tehran. Azerbaijan left open its consulate in Tabriz.

Musavi addressed the incident, saying that investigations by both nations concluded the attack was an isolated act driven by personal motives. The assailant, identified as Yasin Husseinzadeh, has been apprehended and tried. Details of the sentence were not released, but in Iran murder is punishable by a maximum penalty of death.

The trial of Husseinzadeh, marking a year since the attack, has been a focal point in discussions between the two countries, with Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian confirming on March 16 that a delegation from Azerbaijan would soon visit Tehran to facilitate the embassy's reopening.

Baku had said that the identification and prosecution of anyone involved in the attack were prerequisites for the normalization of relations and the reopening of its embassy in Tehran.

Relations between Iran and Azerbaijan also have been complicated by Azerbaijan's ties with Israel and Iran's support for Shiite groups in Azerbaijan. Such disputes have led to mutual accusations and arrests over alleged espionage and efforts to establish a theocratic state in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan has also accused Iran of backing Armenia in a long-standing conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Iran also has long accused Azerbaijan of fueling separatist sentiments among its sizeable ethnic Azeri minority.