Israel's president has praised Azerbaijan for playing a key role in countering Iran's influence in the Middle East.

Shimon Peres says Azerbaijian, which shares a border with Iran, has taken a "clear stand" against war and terrorism.

Peres says Azerbaijan's "unique geographic location" makes it a "key country" in the region.

Peres spoke Monday during a meeting with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov. It's the first visit by an Azerbaijani foreign minister to Israel.

Israel believes Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon, a charge Tehran denies. Israel and the U.S. have hinted at military action if diplomacy fails to stop Iran's controversial nuclear program.

Israel's ties with Azerbaijan have grown since its once-strong strategic relationship with nearby Turkey deteriorated.