Iranian, Armenian Leaders Look to Strengthen Ties
YEREVAN (A.W)—Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Armenia on Dec. 21 at the invitation of Armenian President Serge Sarkisian. During his visit, Rouhani met with Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan, President Sarkisian, and attended the closing ceremonies of the Armenian-Iranian Business Forum organized by Armenian Development Fund.
The two presidents discussed strengthening of the relations between the two countries, specifically economically and in the energy sector. “We must do everything to utilize the full potential of Armenian-Iranian relations in the coming months and years,” Rouhani told a joint news briefing with Sarkisian, RFE/RL’s Armenian service reported.
Armenia currently imports up to 500 million cubic meters of Iranian gas annually through a pipeline that was built in 2008. During the briefing, the two sides agreed to increase Iranian gas supplies to Armenia and for Iran to serve as a transit route for Armenia’s gas imports from Turkmenistan. Armenia pays for the Iranian gas with electricity delivered to Iran.
A second agreement during the visit called for a “joint use” of the sole border crossing between the two countries. Armenian officials added that Iranian businessmen would be able to set up manufacturing firms in the tax-free zones. The two also reaffirmed the importance of the signing of the free-trade deal between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union.
Sarkisian and Rouhani touched upon the Nagorno-Karabagh (Artsakh/NKR) conflict when discussing regional security. “Azerbaijan and Armenia are our partners and we hope that it will be possible to achieve a lasting peace in Karabagh through negotiations,” Rouhani told the press. “Such a peace is in the interests of all regional states. There is definitely no military path to achieving peace.”
President Sarkisian praised Rouhani for his support towards a peaceful resolution in the conflict.
The two presidents also released a joint statement, in which they announced that they will be having regular meetings and as enhancing cooperation in the areas of trade, agriculture, transport, energy, and economy. Following the meeting, a series of memorandums were signed by the presidents defining the planned cooperation.
Source: Armenian Weekly
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