(AFP) - Azerbaijan shut down its cargo rail traffic to other Caucasus republics Thursday because it feared that some of the goods were being delivered to its arch-foe Armenia, officials said.
Azerbaijan's rail ministry said the traffic was cut off to neighboring Georgia, whose rail line leads to Armenia, because "we have received information that part of the cargo sent to Azerbaijan from Russia is meant for Armenia," Moscow's regional ally.
The Azeri rail ministry told AFP that 1,500 rail cars holding oil and grain were intercepted at the Azeri-Georgian border. The rail ministry official said that Moscow and Baku had signed a 1998 agreement that goods from Russia headed for Armenia could not be transferred by Azerbaijan.
"That is why we have every right to do this," rail ministry spokesman Nazyr Azmamedov said.
Neighboring Azerbaijan and Armenia are still technically at war over control of Nagorno-Karabakh, a sparsely populated range of mountains with a mainly ethnic Armenian population that is formally part of Azerbaijan. Georgia sits on the northern side of the two countries' border, providing another rail link between the two feuding states.