Armenia could become a “platform” for U.S.-Iranian commercial relations following the lifting of international sanctions against Iran, Richard Mills, the U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, said on Thursday.
Mills also echoed U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent reported remark that last year’s record-high amount of U.S. investments in the Armenian economy is “only the beginning” of closer U.S.-Armenian economic cooperation.
According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Obama made the comment at a meeting late last month with Armenia’s newly appointed ambassador in Washington, Grigor Hovannisian. Most of the 2015 U.S. investments stemmed from the $250 million sale of the Vorotan hydroelectric complex, the largest in Armenia, to a U.S. energy company.
“President Obama’s remarks reflected the Embassy’s and the U.S. government’s priorities in Armenia: increasing American investments and trade,” Mills said in an online chat with Facebook users in Armenia.
In that regard, the U.S. diplomat cited the Vorotan deal and the signing in May 2015 of the U.S.-Armenian Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). “In my view, all this reflects the fact that Armenia’s economy has reached a level of development and reform that makes it attractive to American investments,” he said.
“Also, the lifting of sanctions against Iran could turn Armenia into an important platform for expanding American business with Iran,” added Mills.
In February 5 comments to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, the envoy made clear that Washington does not object to Armenia’s plans to intensify commercial ties with Iran.
President Serzh Sarkisian and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani discussed the new economic opportunities, which have emerged after the sanctions relief, in a phone call late last month.
The two neighboring states already signed in August last year a final agreement on the construction of a new power transmission line which is due to significantly increase exports of Armenian electricity to Iran.