Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani will reportedly fly to Armenia on Wednesday on an official visit which he hopes will strengthen relations between the two neighboring states.
A spokesman for Rouhani, Parviz Esmaeli, announced the date of the planned trip in comments to the Iranian news agency Tasnim. President Serzh Sarkisian’s office did not immediately confirm the information.
Esmaeli said Rouhani and Sarkisian will meet in Yerevan to discuss ways of “further deepening bilateral relations.” They will also preside over the signing of several Armenian-Iranian “cooperation agreements,” he said without elaborating.
The visit will come two weeks after the latest session of an Armenian-Iranian intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation held in Tehran. It was co-chaired by Iran’s Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian and his Armenian counterpart Ashot Manukian.
The two sides reaffirmed their plans to create a “free economic zone” along Armenia’s border with Iran. The Armenian government said earlier this year that Iranian entrepreneurs will be able to set up manufacturing firms in the tax-free zone.
According to Armenian government data, Armenia’s trade with Iran stood at $276 million in 2015 and is on course to shrink this year.
Iran’s First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri lamented these modest trade volumes when he met with Manukian in Tehran on December 5. “The obstacles hampering economic cooperation between Tehran and Yerevan must be removed,” another Iranian news agency, Fars, quoted Jahangiri as saying.
Armenian-Iranian trade should rise significantly after the construction of a new power transmission line connecting the two countries. The $120 million facility, slated for completion by 2019, will allow for a sharp increase in exports to Iran of Armenian electricity generated by Iranian natural gas.