Plots Seeking to Harm Tehran-Baku Relations

Plots Seeking to Harm Tehran-Baku Relations  Plots Seeking to Harm Tehran-Baku Relations

Iran has warned of plots by ill-wishers to harm the country's relations with Azerbaijan, stressing the importance of remaining vigilant to thwart such schemes.

Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hossein Jaber Ansari, said on Saturday the Iranian people are concerned about Azerbaijan's intensified wave of arrests and the killing of Shias in Nardaran district, north of the Azeri capital Baku, Press TV reported.

"The Iranian Foreign Ministry closely monitors different aspects of these events and is in constant contact with Azerbaijan's relevant officials," Ansari said.

"Following close consultations between Iranian and Azeri officials, a more suitable condition was created for Azeris to respect Islamic ceremonies as well as the sanctity of religious sites in Azerbaijan, including mosques."

Azerbaijan has been carrying out a fresh wave of attacks on the majority Shias since Nov. 26 when security forces killed four members of the Movement for Muslim Unity during a raid on the village of Nardaran. At least 14 people were nabbed in the raid, including MMU leader Tale' Bagirzade, who is also known as Sheikh Bagirov.

In an attack on Nardaran on Dec. 3, policemen shot and killed five Shia Muslims and arrested 32 others. Azerbaijan is a majority Shia state of more than nine million people; Shias account for 85% of the population.

The secular government of President Ilham Aliyev suppressed Shia-dominated popular protests in 2010 amid an international outcry over his heavy-handed crackdown.

On Thursday, ethnic Azeris in the northwestern Iranian province of East Azarbaijan gathered in front of Azerbaijan's Consulate in the provincial capital of Tabriz to denounce Baku's crackdown on Shia Muslims in Nardaran.

The protesters called on Azerbaijan's government to stop its anti-Islamic moves and immediately release those arrested in Nardaran.