By Ruslan Rehimov
Iran's top military officer affirmed on Wednesday that the disputed region of Karabakh is the territory of neighboring Azerbaijan.
"Iran considers Karabakh to be Azerbaijani territory and supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan," said Lt. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, Iran’s chief of General Staff. "Changing borders by force is unacceptable, and Iran always stands by the [Azeri] side on this issue."
Speaking after meeting with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev on his visit to the capital Baku, Bagheri stressed the importance of deep bilateral ties between the two countries.
Aliyev extended his gratitude to the Iranian delegation and said that Azerbaijan highly appreciates Iran’s position.
Iran has a large Azeri minority.
Karabakh – a disputed territory between Azerbaijan and Armenia – broke away from Azerbaijan in 1991 with military support from neighboring Armenia, and a peace process has yet to be implemented.
Three UN Security Council resolutions and two UN General Assembly resolutions refer to Karabakh as being part of Azerbaijan.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe refers to the region as being occupied by Armenian forces.
The Armenian occupation of Upper Karabakh led to the closing of the frontier with Turkey, which sides with Baku in the drawn-out dispute.