YEREVAN/TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Armenia said on Thursday it had recalled its ambassador to Israel for consultations over Israeli arms sales to Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan has acknowledged using Israeli-made weapons in its fighting with ethnic Armenian forces around Nagorno-Karabakh, where heavy clashes this week have drawn international calls for an immediate ceasefire.
Protesting against the Israeli weapons exports, Armenian foreign ministry spokeswoman Anna Naghdalyan said “Israel’s workstyle is unacceptable. The ministry has to call back its ambassador in Israel.”
Israel’s foreign ministry said it regretted Armenia’s decision to withdraw its ambassador.
“Israel attaches importance to our relations with Armenia and sees the Armenian Embassy in Israel as an important tool for promoting those relations for the benefit of both peoples,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Asked for details on weapons sales to Azerbaijan, an Israeli defence ministry spokeswoman declined comment.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a leading conflict and armaments think-tank, Israel provided Azerbaijan with some $825 million in weapons between 2006 and 2019.
Those exports included drones, loitering munitions, anti-tank missiles, and a surface-to-air missile system, information from SIPRI’s Arms Transfers Database showed.
Separately, in a video interview with Israel’s Walla news website on Wednesday, Azeri presidential aide Hikmat Hajiyev said Azerbaijan was using “some” Israeli-made drones in fighting around Nagorno-Karabakh, without specifying how many.
“(We) have one of the strongest (drone) fleets in the region. And among them we have Israeli ones, we have other drones as well, but Israeli drones especially, including reconnaissance and attack drones, and kamikaze ‘Harop’ drones, (which) have proved itself very effective,” Hajiyev said.
Reporting by Nvard Hovhannisyan in Yerevan and Rami Ayyub in Tel Aviv; Editing by William Maclean and Lisa Shumaker
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