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Iran Upbeat On Ties With Armenia After Sanctions Relief


Iran -- Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian (L) meets with Iran's new President Hasan Rohani (R) at his office in Tehran on August 5, 2013.

Iran -- Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian (L) meets with Iran's new President Hasan Rohani (R) at his office in Tehran on August 5, 2013.

The upcoming lifting of international sanctions against Iran will speed up the implementation of its joint energy projects with Armenia, a senior Iranian diplomat said on Friday, echoing similar statements by Armenian officials.

“Rest assured that the lifting of international sanctions against Iran will have a concrete impact on Armenian-Iranian projects,” said Mohammad Reisi, the Iranian ambassador to Armenia. “After the lifting of the sanctions Iran will be able to further develop its relations with neighbors.”

“We have very good relations with Armenia and those relations will deep further,” he told a news conference in Yerevan.

Reisi announced in that context that Iran’s First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri is due to visit Yerevan next month for talks that will focus on bilateral commercial ties. He said Jahangiri will primarily concentrate on the planned construction of a new high-voltage transmission line that will enable Armenia to import much more Iranian natural gas and pay for it with electricity supplied to the Islamic Republic.

The envoy implied that the Iranian government will be able to finance that project after the anticipated unfreezing of its overseas assets as part of a sanctions relief envisaged by Tehran’s nuclear agreement with six world powers.

The transmission line’s construction was supposed to get underway in 2012. Armenian Deputy Energy Minister Areg Galstian said last year that it has been delayed because “the bank financing it has run into difficulties.”

Both Armenian and Iranian officials have also blamed the sanctions for repeated delays in the $350 million construction of a major hydroelectric complex on the Armenian-Iranian border. In particular, Reisi last year cited serious restrictions on cash operations between Armenian and Iranian banks that were imposed by the Armenian government.

Armenian Energy Minister Yervand Zakharian said last week that the implementation of the hydroelectric project “will most probably accelerate” as a result of the landmark nuclear deal. “The Islamic Republic of Iran should be able to make more investments [in Armenian-Iranian projects,]” he said.

Economy Minister Karen Chshmaritian also looked forward to the lifting of the sanctions, saying that it will give the Armenian economy “additional oxygen.”

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