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Iranian President Phones New Armenian PM


IRAN -- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the nation in a televised speech in Tehran, May 8, 2018

Iran remains committed to deepening its relations with neighboring Armenia, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said during a phone conversation with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian late on Sunday.

Rouhani reportedly congratulated Pashinian on being elected prime minister on May 8 after weeks of massive protests that brought down the previous Armenian government.

“We are happy that the wish and the will of people were peacefully fulfilled,” the Iranian Mehr news agency quoted Rouhani as saying in an apparent reference to the recent dramatic events in the South Caucasus state.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is determined to develop relations and cooperation with its neighboring countries … Iran and Armenia can further cooperate in various commercial, economic, agricultural and other fields of mutual interest,” he added.

A statement by Pashinian’s press office said the two men agreed on the need to “further deepen mutually beneficial partnership in all areas” and implement bilateral commercial projects mainly relating to energy.

“Our objective is to significantly step up our economic relations with Iran because I think the development of those relations stems from the interests of both Iran and Armenia,” Pashinian told Iranian journalists in Yerevan earlier on Sunday.

In that regard, the new premier called for greater Iranian investments in the Armenian economy. “We intend to seriously examine and eliminate all existing obstacles to such an influx of investments,” he said.

Due to the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the resulting closure of Armenia’s borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey, Iran has long been one of the landlocked country’s two commercial conduits to the outside world. Successive Armenian governments have therefore been keen to maintain a warm rapport with Tehran.

Rouhani and Pashinian also discussed implications of U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of a 2015 agreement on Iran’s nuclear program which led to the lifting of international sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

According to Mehr, Rouhani condemned Trump and said his nation will continue to honor that agreement “as long as its interests are guaranteed by the negotiating parties.” Pashinian assured the Iranian president that Armenia remains very supportive of the nuclear deal and “will never be involved in any moves against Iran,” reported the news agency.

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