TEHRAN, Mar. 14 (Press Shia) – The Islamic Republic of Iran has always attached great importance to the expansion of relations with its neighbors, Azerbaijan Republic in particular.
As two developing Muslim countries, Iran and Azerbaijan Republic have always enjoyed numerous commonalities.
Iranian officials have repeatedly announced that there is no limit to broaden all-out economic cooperation with Baku.
In an indication of amending cordial relations, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev heading a high-ranking delegation arrived in Tehran on March 5 in his third visit to Iran since Hassan Rouhani was elected as Islamic Republic’s president in 2013.
During his day-long visit in Tehran, Aliyev held talks separate meetings with Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and his Iranian counterpart and reviewed issues of mutual interests.
The Iranian and Azeri sides also inked two memoranda of understanding on cooperation in the presence of the two countries’ presidents which were mainly focused on bilateral relations in the areas of fighting against money laundering and fostering railroad cooperation.
Meanwhile, simultaneous with the trip of President Aliyev to Tehran, Astara-Astara railroad project were test-launched, a project which joined Astara in Iran to Astara in Azerbaijan.
In a meeting with Aliyev, Leader said that the interest and expediency of the Azeri government rests in sharing with people religious sentiments.
Religious commonalities bring more affinity between the two nations and officials, the Leader said, adding that the current level of economic cooperation is much lower than existing facilities and capabilities and should be increased ten-folds.
Hailing the stances adopted by Azerbaijan in dealing with Iran’s nuclear dossier, the Leader said Azeri government has always backed Iran in political gatherings and their stances have brought us much closer.
The evil Zionist regime more than other enemies try to weaken brotherly relations between Iran and Azerbaijan and the two sides should be vigilant in protecting such sincere relations, the Leader said.
“If the Azeri government relies on its people, no one in the world can harm you and we also pray for success of the Azeri government and nation,” the Leader said.
Azeri president, for his part highlighted both sides’ historical, cultural and religious commonalities, and said Iran and Azerbaijan have always backed each other and the visit of some one million Azeri people to Iran last year truly indicates the depth of affinity and cultural and religious commonalities between the two nations.
Relations between Iran and Azerbaijan is excellent, he said.
Current volume of trade exchanges between Iran and Azerbaijan is not satisfactory, he said, adding that contraction of joint rail tracks was a very significant job and the two sides are now working on South-North corridor, Aliyev said.
Speaking in a joint press conference attended by President Rouhani, Aliyev said the two countries had good economic progresses and in the past year trade volume between the two states increased more than 70 percents.
Aliyev said that two documents were signed between Iran and Azerbaijan Republic would pave the way for consolidation of relations, and appreciated Iran for starting investment in Azerbaijan Republic.
He said that the issue of north-south corridor is important, adding, ‘The plan will have remarkable influence on the regional countries.’
‘With regards to electricity and energy, the two countries have done good moves and today electricity lines between the two states have been connected and in relations with oil and gas also there are good possibilities and investment.
He added that Islamic solidarity meeting will be held next month in Baku and invited Iranian athletes to participate in the event.
Meanwhile, President Rouhani for his part described Tehran-Baku relations as brotherly and strategic, saying the two countries enjoy close viewpoints about the regional questions.
During the past three years, Iran and Azerbaijan have witnessed considerable growth in their bilateral ties, President Rouhani said.
Growth in Tehran-Baku ties is “politically, economically, culturally, regionally and internationally” important, President Rouhani said.
The volume of the trade exchange in the past ten months between Iran and Azerbaijan indicates that the two are moving towards further efforts in developing bilateral relations, Rouhani underlined.
Rasht-Astara Rail Track
In a meeting with Azeri high-ranking officials led by Aliyev, President Rouhani said that Iran attaches importance to the expansion of relations with its neighbors and there is no limit to broaden all-out economic cooperation with Baku.
Connecting the two countries rail tracks prepare grounds for the expansion of economic cooperation through transit of goods in the region, President Rouhani said while expressing the hope that Rasht-Astara rail track to be connected to enable Azerbaijan to have access to Persian Gulf region.
He added grounds for the expansion of mutual cooperation in industry, agriculture, scientific cooperation, universities and tourism are well-prepared and ease of commutes between the two sides’ nationals help deepen such cooperation.
Implementation of banking cooperation can help broaden banking and economic cooperation between the two countries, Rouhani said.
Free trade economic zones can play vital role in broadening economic cooperation between border regions and Iran welcomes investment of Azerbaijan in tourism sector, President Rouhani said.
Determining Caspian Sea Legal Regime requires collective consensus of all littoral states and Tehran and Baku can play significant role to this end, he said.
In Feb 25, Minister of Economy of Azerbaijan Republic Shahin Mustafayev said that in year 2016 trade exchanges between the two countries increased almost 70 percent.
More than 530 Iranian companies are active in different fields of economy in Azerbaijan Republic, he announced, adding, ‘Almost 2.7 billion dollars have been invested by Iran in Azerbaijan Republic.’
He called Iran as important commercial partner for his country and said that common activities of the two neighboring countries in direction of execution of a number of economic projects successful, and added that the first stage of completion of international corridor of north-south has ended and in this framework a 8.3 kilometers railway in Azerbaijan Republic and a rail bridge in common border of the two states have been constructed and works to build 1.7 kilometers railway and a cargo terminal in Iran territory is continuing, Mustafayev said.
He said that last year a 330-kilovolt electricity transfer line were sat up and a joint venture auto maker company founded in Azerbaijan Republic as well as a joint venture pharmaceutics plant.