Catholicos Garegin II and a visiting representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reportedly expressed concern at the rise of religious extremism in the region when they met in Echmiadzin on Wednesday.
The meeting between the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church and Ali Ghazi Asgar, a high-ranking Iranian cleric serving as Khamenei’s representative for Hajj affairs, underlined close ties between the two neighboring states.
Garegin’s office quoted Ghazi Asgar as praising “the exemplary and warm relations between the two nations in the religious political, economic and areas.” He said they are “developing year by year.”
A statement by the office said the two men voiced concerns over challenges stemming from “the globalization process, decline in moral-spiritual values, the problem of family protection, and extremist movements that have emerged in the world.” It did not elaborate on those movements, saying only that they are having a “devastating impact on the life of the humankind.”
It was an apparent reference to the Islamic State (ISIS) militants fighting against the Iranian-backed governments of Iraq and Syria. The Armenian government condemned the Sunni jihadist movement as a “plague threatening the civilized world” last year following the destruction of an Armenian church in Syria.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said “Iran, Armenia and all regional states should join forces to fight terrorism” during talks in Tehran last October with Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian.
It was not clear whether Ghazi Asgar was due to hold talks with Armenian government officials during his trip. No such talks were reported as of Friday evening.