Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reportedly urged neighboring Armenia on Wednesday to strengthen its relationship with his country “contrary to what the United States desires” to see.
Khamenei blasted the U.S. as he met with Armenia’s visiting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian accompanied by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
“The U.S. is completely unreliable and always tries to cause sedition, corruption, conflict and war,” the Mehr news agency quoted him as saying. “They are against the relations between Iran and Armenia and they act against the interests of our nations. In response, we need to strengthen our relations and cooperation.”
“Iran and Armenia have never had any problems with each other,” Khamenei went on. “According to our Islamic teachings, we feel obliged to behave well toward our neighboring countries. But U.S. officials such as [National Security Adviser] John Boltonhave no understanding of such matters or of human relations.”
Rouhani likewise warned “any third country” against meddling in Armenian-Iranian relations after holding talks with Pashinian earlier in the day.
Bolton discussed with Pashinian Armenia’s traditionally cordial relations with Iran when he visited Yerevan in October. He said Washington will be enforcing renewed U.S. sanctions against Tehran “very vigorously” and that the Armenian-Iranian border is therefore “going to be a significant issue.”
Speaking in the Armenian parliament a few days later, Pashinian said he made it clear to Bolton that his government will maintain Armenia’s “special” relationship with Iran.
Khamenei singled out the need for closer economic cooperation as he made a case for “strong, persistent and friendly” ties between Iran and its sole Christian neighbor. According to Mehr, he called for a “vigorous” implementation of agreements reached during Pashinian’s first official visit to Tehran.
An Armenian government statement said the powerful Iranian leader also discussed with Pashinian “various regional issues” and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in particular. It said they agreed that there can only be a peaceful, negotiated solution to the conflict.
Successive Armenian governments have praised the Islamic Republic for its “balance” position on the unresolved dispute.