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The South Caucasus republics have given great importance to their respective ties with their Middle Eastern neighbors. In general, they have attempted to expand trade with those countries and to avoid involvement in regional disputes. Relations with Turkey and Iran have held the greatest importance, but ties with individual Arab countries and Israel have also served useful economic and political purposes. The South Caucasus republics have needed to balance their relations with their neighbors and the major powers in the interests of political and economic security. Matters of territorial integrity, the status of ethnic brethren residing in foreign countries, trade routes, and historical memory have all shaped the development of foreign policy in the countries of this region.