TEHRAN, Iran (RFE/RL)—Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan reaffirmed Iran’s desire to deepen relations with Armenia and warned against attempts to resolve regional conflicts by force as he met with his Armenian counterpart Vigen Sargsian in Tehran on Tuesday.
“It is not acceptable to resort to force to solve regional problems and the Islamic Republic of Iran will spare no effort to solve these problems,” the Iranian Press TV channel quoted him as telling Sargsian.
Use of force for conflict resolution has already “proved to be futile,” Dehqan said, according to the Mehr news agency.
According to the Armenian Defense Ministry, Sargsian and Dehqan discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and agreed on the need for its “solely negotiated settlement.”
Visiting Armenia in late December, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani likewise stressed that there is “no military path” to ending the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute. President Serzh Sarkisian praised Tehran’s “balanced position” on the issue after their talks.
Dehqan phoned his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts in April last year the day after Azerbaijan launched offensive military operations along the Karabakh and Azerbaijani border, also known as the Line of Contact. He urged an immediate end to hostilities there, saying that they are a “source of deep concern” for the Islamic Republic.
A section of the Karabakh frontline adjacent to Iran was one of the two epicenters of four-day heavy fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces which was halted by a Russian-agreement.
Sargsian arrived in Tehran late on Monday for an official visit highlighting what appear to be growing contacts between the Iranian and Armenian militaries.
Dehqan said that Armenian-Iranian ties have been deepening “in all fields” in recent years. The Iranian general spoke of “cultural and historical bonds” between the two neighboring nations, reported Mehr.
In a statement, the Defense Ministry in Yerevan said Sargsian and Dehqan “expressed readiness to expand and develop bilateral relations.” The Armenian minister was reported to say that the two sides should “work out a mechanism for periodical meetings and consultations” for that purpose.
Sargsian referred to defense industry as a potential area of Armenian-Iranian military cooperation when he visited Tehran’s Malek Ashtar University engaged in military research later in the day.
He went on to visit the headquarters of Iran Electronics Industries, a state-run company manufacturing electronic equipment, including for the Iranian military. Sargsian’s press office did not specify what he discussed with the representatives of the two institutions.