Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Rahimpour briefed Armenia’s top diplomats on the current state of Iran’s nuclear talks with world powers during annual “political consultations” that were concluded in Yerevan on Friday.
Rahimpour began the consultations on Thursday with a meeting with Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian which focused on Iranian-Armenian relations and regional security. Nalbandian was reported to praise bilateral ties as “warm and mutually beneficial.”
A statement by the Armenian Foreign Ministry said Rahimpour presented “the latest developments in the ongoing negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program.” The ministry released a virtually identical statement on the Iranian diplomat’s separate two-day talks with Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian.
Following marathon negotiations held in Switzerland, Iran and the United States, the European Union, Russia and China reached in April a tentative agreement to curb Tehran’s controversial nuclear program that has long raised concerns in the West. The negotiating parties thus moved much closer to a comprehensive deal that would lead to a gradual lifting of crippling international sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Armenia was quick to welcome the April agreement, with Nalbandian saying that it will contribute to “stability and cooperation in the region.” Kocharian, for his part, said that the looming sanction relief would substantially facilitate Armenian-Iranian commercial ties. “The sanctions have inhibited our relations with Iran,” he said on April 3.
They have specifically hampered the implementation of Armenian-Iranian energy projects such as the $350 million construction of a big hydroelectric plant on the Arax river separating the two countries. Yerevan and Tehran also plan to build a new high-voltage transmission line that will enable Armenia to export much more electricity to the Islamic Republic and import larger volumes of Iranian natural gas.
Rahimpour discussed the energy projects in detail at a separate meeting with Armenia’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Yervand Zakharian. According to “The Tehran Times” daily, the two men reaffirmed their governments’ plans to complete the transmission line by 2018. The paper said its construction will be financed from a $122 million Iranian loan to be provided to the Armenian side.
The Armenian-Iranian diplomatic consultations coincided with a visit to Yerevan by a delegation of Iranian parliamentarians representing an Iran-Armenia “friendship group.” They were received by Nalbandian on Friday.