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Iranian Envoy Again Visits Armenia


Armenia -- President Serzh Sarkisian (R) meets with Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad-Reza Sheibani in Yerevan, 13May2011.

Armenia -- President Serzh Sarkisian (R) meets with Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad-Reza Sheibani in Yerevan, 13May2011.

A special envoy of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Armenia and held talks with its leaders for the second time in less than three months on Friday.


Official Armenian sources said Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad-Reza Sheibani discussed with President Serzh Sarkisian and Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian the current state of Armenian-Iranian relations as well as regional security.

Sarkisian was cited by his press office as telling Sheibani that frequent negotiations held by senior Armenian and Iranian government officials testify to “high-level relations existing between the two neighboring states.”

According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Nalbandian welcomed the “dynamic development” of those relations at a separate meeting with the visiting Iranian diplomat. A ministry statement said he stressed the importance of bilateral economic cooperation on energy, transport and “a number of other areas.”

Both sources said the talks touched upon the implementation of agreements reached by Ahmadinejad and Sarkisian. They gave no further details.

The Armenian and Iranian presidents most recently met in Tehran in late March during official celebrations of the ancient Persian Nowruz holiday. Ahmadinejad was reported to have told Sarkisian that Tehran “has placed no limits on the development of cooperation with Yerevan” and wants to deepen ties between the two “friendly neighbors.”

Both leaders reaffirmed their governments’ plans to press ahead with more joint energy and transport projects. Those include the construction of two hydro-electric plants on the Arax river marking the Armenian-Iranian border and a pipeline that will ship Iranian fuel to Armenia.

Sheibani reportedly discussed these projects during his previous visit to Yerevan that took place in mid-February. Sarkisian’s office said at the time that unspecified “regional issues” were also on the agenda of his talks with the Armenian president.

Sheibani’s latest trip came ten days after another senior Iranian official, Deputy Defense Minister Reza Mozafari Nia, met with Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian in Yerevan. Few details of that meeting were made public.

An Armenian Defense Ministry official told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that it focused on the implementation of unpublicized agreements reached during Ohanian’s July 2010 visit to Tehran.

Relations with the Islamic Republic is a rare matter of national consensus in Armenia, reflecting its unresolved conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh and strained relations with another Muslim neighbor, Turkey. With Amenia’s borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey closed for almost two decades, Iran remains one of the landlocked country’s two conduits to the outside world.
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