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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Azeri Radar Base Remark Raises Eyebrows in Moscow

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- The Azeri parliament speaker raised eyebrows in Moscow on Friday when he said Azerbaijan might pass on information from a Russian missile-tracking base to Turkey and allow the NATO member to establish military bases in the country.

"I am in favor of using the Gabala radar station jointly with Turkey in the future, as well as in favor of Turkey's setting up military bases in certain areas of Azerbaijan," Murtuz Aleskerov told a news conference in Baku, held jointly with his visiting Turkish counterpart, Omer Izgi.

In response, Izgi said if that happened, it would be "another evidence of fraternal and friendly relations between our countries."

Russia and Azerbaijan agreed last month that Moscow should continue to use the Soviet-built Gabala station in the north of the country for 10 years while sharing information from it with Azerbaijan.

The station, which monitors inter-continental ballistic missile launches across the Southern Hemisphere, is a key element in Russia's missile attack early-warning system.

A Russian military source reacted quickly, saying Moscow had "noted" Aleskerov's comments and hoped they did not reflect Baku's official position, Interfax reported.

"This station is a stabilizing factor since it is capable, in real-time, of operationally tracking rockets in the entire southern and southeastern region of the planet," the source told Interfax.

"The transfer by Russia to Azerbaijan of information from the station will serve as an extra guarantee of security in the given region," the source said.

Aleskerov also told Izgi he had "a positive attitude toward the possibility of Turkish military bases being located in Azerbaijan in the future."

Reacting to this, the Russian source said if this happened, it would be tantamount to "the North Atlantic alliance moving its military infrastructure closer to the borders of Russia."

(Reuters, AP)