Iran’s new President Hassan Rohani praised Armenia for supporting his country in the international arena and called for closer ties between the two neighbors as he held talks with his visiting Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian on Monday.
The two men met in Tehran the day after Rohani was sworn in for a four-year term. Sarkisian was among a dozen foreign heads of state who attended the inauguration, underscoring close relations existing between Armenia and Iran.
The official Iranian IRNA news agency quoted Rohani as saying that the Islamic Republic is keen to expand its “deeply-rooted” ties with Armenia. “Armenia has always adopted at international conferences positions that are a very close and friendly to Iran,” he added.
Sarkisian’s press office, for its part, said the two presidents discussed “a wide range of issues related to both bilateral and multilateral relations,” including Armenian-Iranian energy projects and the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “Expressing satisfaction with the high level of mutually beneficial cooperation based on centuries-old friendship between Armenia and Iran, Serzh Sarkisian and Hassan Rohani stressed the need to elevate that cooperation to a new, higher level,” it said in statement.
The statement added that Rohani and Sarkisian “recalled with warmth” their past meetings and “expressed readiness to work towards deepening Armenian-Iranian cooperation in the same spirit.”
The two men met on at least two occasions in the past, in 2001 and 2005, when they served as secretaries of their countries’ national security councils.
Armenian-Iranian ties and economic cooperation in particular deepened during the eight-year presidency of Rohani’s controversial predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The two governments completed in 2007 a pipeline supplying Iranian natural gas to Armenia. They also started building last year a big hydroelectric plant on the Armenian-Iranian border.