Azerbaijan, Iran in new diplomatic row

Azerbaijan, Iran in new diplomatic row

Azerbaijan, Iran in new diplomatic row

Swedish singer Loreen poses with her trophy after winning the Eurovision. REUTERS photo

Azerbaijan stopped a senior Iranian official entering the country on May 28, Iran’s embassy said, a move set to further sour relations between the Islamic Republic and its neighbor after a spat over the Eurovision Song Contest.

Tensions between the two countries has risen this year with both sides accusing the other of meddling in each other’s affairs and Iran’s withdrawal of its ambassador last week after clerics criticized Baku for hosting Eurovision.

“We report with great regret that the head of the culture department of Iran’s Supreme Leadership ... was rejected from entering Azerbaijan on Monday,” the Iranian embassy said in a statement. “It was done in an undiplomatic way.”

Eurovision terror plot revealed

It said the official was turned back at Baku international airport. Azerbaijan’s hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest was condemned by some Iranian clerics and lawmakers who referred to a “gay parade,” although no such event was planned or held. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan foiled an attempt to stage “terrorist” attacks while it was hosting the Eurovision Song Contest last week and arrested dozens of suspected plotters, the security ministry said yesterday. “The main goal of the group was to stage terrorist acts in Baku during Eurovision,” the National Security Ministry said in a statement.

“As a result of the measures taken, 40 members of the group were arrested.” The group was planning attacks on the concert hall where Eurovision was held, on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, police buildings, hotels used by foreigners, mosques and other religious sites in the ex-Soviet state, it said.

Compiled from Reuters and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.