Montazeri met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian after discussing with his Armenian counterpart Artur Davtian Armenian-Iranian cooperation in combatting cross-border crime and extradition of dozens of Iranian nationals jailed in Armenia on mostly drug-related charges.
Pashinian hailed that cooperation, saying that it is in tune with his and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s intention to reinvigorate the broader Armenian-Iranian relationship. According an Armenian government statement, he stressed the need for “new impetus” to bilateral commercial ties.
“We are interested in developing ties with Armenia to the benefit of our countries,” the statement quoted Montazeri as saying. Those ties allow the two neighboring states to “jointly confront the existing challenges in the region,” he said.
The two men, the statement went on, also touched upon “processes taking place in the region,” with Montazeri saying that Iran will not put up with the presence of “terrorists and war-mongering forces” along its borders.
The conservative cleric thus echoed recent days’ statements by other Iranian officials accusing Azerbaijan of harboring Sunni Muslim militants and Israeli security personnel near the Iranian border.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev again rejected these accusations in a newspaper interview published on Wednesday. He said Tehran is simply unhappy with Baku’s decision to start levying hefty fees from Iranian trucks transporting goods to and from Armenia.
The vehicles are being stopped at a 21-kilometer section of the main Armenia-Iran highway which Yerevan controversially ceded to Baku shortly after last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Aliyev again said that Azerbaijani police and customs set up a roadblock there on September 12 because Tehran failed to stop Iranian trucks from carrying out cargo shipments to Karabakh.
Two Iranian truck drivers were arrested there and accused of illegally travelling to Karabakh. They were reportedly set free on Wednesday one day after the Iranian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers spoke by phone in a bid to ease the unprecedented Azerbaijani-Iranian tensions.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was reported to tell his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov that the two Shia Muslim neighbors should not let their enemies damage their relations. He made clear at the same time that the Islamic Republic expects a solution to “the problem of cargo transit.”
Bayramov reportedly proposed that Azerbaijani and Iranian customs officials meet and discuss the issue.