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Iran Hands Protest Note To Azerbaijani Ambassador

Azerbaijanis rally in front of the Iranian Embassy in downtown Baku on May 11.
Iran's Foreign Ministry has handed a note of protest to Azerbaijan's ambassador to Iran, Javanshir Akhundov, saying that "the honor and dignty of the Islamic republic's spiritual leaders have been insulted" during anti-Iran protests in Baku last week.

On May 21, officials at the Iranian Embassy in Baku said that Ambassador Mohammad Bagher Bahrami had returned to Tehran on May 21 "for consultations."

The move came after dozens of protesters in Baku picketed the Iranian Embassy last week, protesting what they called “Tehran's anti-Azerbaijani politics" and holding pictures of Iran's ayatollahs and president with critical comments on them.

Tensions between Iran and mainly Muslim but officially secular Azerbaijan have escalated in recent months after Azerbaijani authorities arrested a number of men with alleged links to Iran who were reportedly plotting attacks in Azerbaijan.

Ties have also frayed over reported closer links between Azerbaijan and Iranian rival Israel, including reported Azerbaijani purchases of Israeli weapons.

A senior Azerbaijani official, presidential aide Ali Gasanov, accused Iran of making slanderous statements about the country as Baku prepares to host the Eurovision Song Contest this week.

Based on reporting by IRNA, ITAR-TASS, and Interfax

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