Relations with neighboring Iran have vital importance for Armenia, President Serzh Sarkisian said as he received a high-ranking official of the Islamic Republic in Yerevan on Thursday.
Iran’s First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri arrived in Armenia yesterday on an official two-day visit expected to revive Tehran’s economic ties with its northern neighbor.
The visit is perceived by many observers in the context of the recent Iran-West nuclear agreement that envisages a gradual removal of sanctions against Tehran and possible expansion of Iran’s ties with neighbors.
Hosting Jahangiri, Sarkisian emphasized that Armenia has mutual economic interests with Iran and is interested in “deepening high-level political dialogue and cooperation in all possible areas.”
As quoted by his press service, the Armenian leader said that the discussions and arrangements made during the Iranian official’s visit to Armenia “could mark the beginning of a new stage in bilateral relations.”
Jahangiri, for his part, also attached importance to relations with Armenia, saying that his meetings in Yerevan will further strengthen the good-neighborly relations between the two nations. He emphasized that Armenia “has its own place in Iran’s foreign relations”.
“During the hard times for us Armenia was a friend and continues to be a friend, with which Iran is willing to develop relations without limitations,” said Iran’s first vice-president.
The two also discussed a number of other issues, among them also those concerning the negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement and the situation in the Middle East. Both attached importance to the settlement of the crisis in Syria through “dialogue and peaceful negotiations”.
Earlier on Thursday Jahangiri and Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian attended the opening of a large forum of Armenian and Iranian businessmen in Yerevan.
The economic agenda also dominated Jahangiri’s talks with Abrahamian the previous night. This included cooperation in the energy, transport and other sectors as well as plans for the establishment of a free trade area between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union, an economic grouping of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan that Armenia joined in January.
The building of infrastructure making Armenia a more efficient transit country for Iran has also been on the agenda of meetings with the Iranian delegation.
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) Iran’s Minister of Transport Abbas Ahmad Akhoundi spoke about efforts to establish a transport corridor from the Gulf region to the Black Sea and further to Bulgaria.
“This is also important for landlocked Armenia that can thus use this corridor to access the Gulf region. We also can use this corridor, the territories of Armenia and Georgia, to reach the Black Sea,” he said.
“For this purpose we have discussed the possibility of quadripartite cooperation involving Iran, Armenia, Georgia and Bulgaria,” Akhoundi added.
According to the Iranian official, issues related to the repairs of a highway linking the two countries and the construction of a railroad were also discussed with the Armenian side.
“We assured the Armenian side that we will construct our section when Armenia builds at least one third of its section of the railroad,” Iran’s transport minister said.