YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Iran has reportedly reaffirmed its intention to continue seeking closer relations with neighboring Armenia after the recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed with his Armenian counterpart Ara Ayvazian regional security and bilateral ties in a phone call on Monday.
According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Zarif and Ayvazian explored “prospects for cooperation aimed at addressing new regional challenges.”
“The interlocutors emphasized the importance of further stepping up [Armenian-Iranian] contacts and dialogue at various levels, based on centuries-old friendly relations between the two peoples. They reiterated mutual readiness to deepen the close cooperation in bilateral and multilateral formats,” read a ministry statement.
The two ministers spoke one day after the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, met with Artashes Tumanyan, the Armenian ambassador in Tehran.
“Shamkhani expressed the Iranian authorities’ readiness to deepen cooperation between the two countries in these difficult times for Armenia,” the Armenian Embassy in Iran said in a statement on the meeting.
The embassy said Tumanyan briefed Shamkhani on “the situation in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh as well as regional developments.” It gave no other details.
On Saturday, Armenia’s Deputy Minister for Territorial Administraiton and Infrastructures Hakob Vartanyan held separate talks in Tehran with Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, his deputy Amir Hossein Zamaninia and Deputy Energy Minister Homayoun Hayeri.
The Armenian Embassy reported that the two sides finalized agreements to prolong and expand a long-running swap arrangement involving Iranian natural gas supplies to Armenia and Armenian electricity exports to the Islamic Republic. As a result of those agreements, a gas pipeline connecting the two countries will operate at full capacity, said the embassy.
“Discussions about some technical issues concerning gas exports and gas-for-electricity barter were postponed to the near future, after which a long-term contract will be signed,” the Fars news agency quoted Zamaninia as saying. The Iranian vice-minister did not elaborate.
The future of the swap arrangement hinges on the ongoing construction of a third power transmission line connecting Armenia and Iran. It will allow the two states to triple mutual energy supplies.
Work on the high-voltage line, which is mainly carried out in southeastern Armenia by an Iranian company, was supposed to finish in September 2019. However, it was delayed due to a host of factors, including U.S. sanctions against Iran.
The Armenian Embassy said Vartanian’s talks with Hayeri focused on the “final stage” of the construction.