TEHRAN—Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani spoke of “bright prospects” for deepening Armenian-Iranian relations and called on Armenia to join the Islamic Republic in fighting against “terrorism” in the broader region during talks with Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian in Tehran on Monday, reports RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
In an apparent reference to Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Syria and Iraq, Rouhani was reported to denounce “terrorists targeting civilizations and humanity” and indiscriminately killing both Christians and Muslims.
He said, “Iran and Armenia and all regional states should join forces to fight terrorism because security in the region will become sustainable only through collective cooperation,” reported the official IRNA news agency. “Security is a non-dividable category and if a country suffers from terrorism, other countries will suffer too.”
According to IRNA, Rouhani “called for fully using the existing capacity to expand relations” between Armenia and Iran. He said there are “bright prospect” for doing that because both governments are committed to closer ties.
Senior officials from Iran and Armenia agreed on Monday to establish a high joint commission to elevate bilateral ties in a host of fields, Iran’s Tasnim news agency reported.
The decision to create the commission was made in a meeting between Iranian First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri and visiting Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian in Tehran on Monday prior to Abrahamian’s meeting with Rouhani.
Speaking at a joint press conference with the Armenian premier, Jahangiri said the meeting has covered a range of items from economic ties to environmental issues.
He announced that the volume of trade exchange between the two countries stands at $300 million per year and expressed hope that closer cooperation could bring even higher volumes of trade.
“Given the fact that Armenia has recently joined the Eurasian Economic Union, a good opportunity will be provided for the two countries’ private sectors to trade goods and also export them to neighboring countries,” Jahangiri added, noting that Armenia will be an important route for Iran to trade with EEU member states.
Abrahamian, for his part, said Tehran and Yerevan concluded several agreements in various fields, adding that officials from the two sides will devise plans for the enhancement of economic relations through the planned joint commission.
Jahangiri also announced that Iran plans to build a hydropower plant on the Armenian side of the Arax River in order to increase Armenia’s capacity for supplying electricity to Iran in exchange for natural gas, a barter trade deal the two countries struck in 2009.
New power transmission line to be constructed between Iran and Armenia
Similarly, on Saturday, the Iranian and Armenian energy ministers agreed on the construction of a new power transmission line from Armenia to Iran in line with the two country’s efforts to boost energy ties, Tansim News Agency reported.
In an hour-long, closed-door meeting in Tehran on Saturday evening, Hamid Chitchian and his Armenian counterpart Yervand Zakharian held talks on ways to boost electricity for gas trade, based on which Iran supplies gas to Armenia and receives electricity.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Chitchian said during the talks it was agreed that the third power transmission line between the two countries and two hydroelectric power plants be constructed in a bid to increase the potential for energy exchange.
He said that over the past two decades, the two countries have had good cooperation in the area of energy and the Saturday meeting was an emphasis on the continued cooperation between Iran and Armenia.
Earlier on Saturday, Iran’s Deputy Energy Minister Houshang Falahatian had said that the two sides have recently held meetings with Armenian officials and, based on agreements, are constructing new power transmission lines from Armenia to Iran.
In May 2009, Iran and Armenia started trading gas and electricity. According to a contract previously signed between the two countries, Iran was set to supply gas to Armenia until 2029 with or without exchanging electricity with the country.
Falahatian also said that the amount of gas that has been exported to Armenia and the amount of electricity imported from the country did not match the agreed amounts based on the contract between the two sides.
The financial resources for the new transmission line have been supplied by Export Development Bank of Iran, he added.