Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and his Armenian opposite number for talks that focused on regional security and Armenian-Iranian economic cooperation.
“Ali Shamkhani emphasized that Iran considers any attempt to change the geopolitical situation in the region unacceptable and noted that his country also supports the process of unblocking [transport] infrastructures within the framework of preserving the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states,” Pashinian’s press office said in a statement on the talks.
Other Iranian officials, notably President Ebrahim Raisi, have made similar statements in recent months amid Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations on restoring transport links between the two South Caucasus states.
Such links are envisaged by the Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh. The deal specifically commits Yerevan to opening rail and road links between Azerbaijan and its Nakhichevan exclave.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has claimed that it calls for an exterritorial land corridor that would pass through Syunik, the sole Armenian province bordering Iran. Armenian leaders deny this, saying that Azerbaijani citizens and cargo cannot be exempt from Armenian border controls.
“Statements made about transport corridors are unacceptable to us,” the Iranian ambassador in Yerevan, Abbas Badakhshan Zohouri, reportedly said during a visit to Syunik in late April.
According to the Armenian government statement, Shamkhani told Pashinian that Iran is ready to deepen ties with Armenia “in all spheres.” The two men stressed in that regard the importance of increasing bilateral trade and implementing joint energy and transport projects.
The official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Shamkhani as telling Armen Grigorian, the secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, that Tehran sees “no limitations for expanding bilateral ties as the Iranian and Armenian nations have over the past decades backed each other in difficult times at the regional and international levels.”
Grigorian’s office said the two officials stressed the importance of Chabahar, an Iranian cargo port in the Gulf of Oman, “in the context of Armenian-Iranian relations and especially the development of Syunik.”
India has built two terminals at Chabahar to bypass Pakistan in cargo traffic with Iran, Afghanistan and central Asian countries.
Meeting in Yerevan last October, Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar called for establishing an Armenian-Indian transport link passing through Chabahar. Mirzoyan said the Iranian port could be used for cargo shipments to not only Armenia but also neighboring Georgia, Russia and even Europe.
An Indian-Armenian intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation held its latest session in Yerevan earlier this week.