YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani praised his country’s deepening relations with Armenia and described them as important for regional security during an official visit to Yerevan that ended over the weekend.
Official Armenian sources said he also stressed the importance of large-scale commercial projects planned or already implemented by the two neighboring states during talks with President Serzh Sarkisian and other Armenian leaders.
Sarkisian’s office quoted Larijani as saying that Armenian-Iranian relations can serve as a “good basis for maintaining regional stability.”
“Our people regard our country, your people as a centuries-old friend, as a trustworthy and close partner,” Sarkisian told him in televised remarks. “I am glad that our relations are at the good level today.”
A separate statement by the presidential press service said both men welcomed the upcoming construction of two hydro-electric plants on the Armenian-Iranian border, a fuel pipeline and a third transmission line linking the two countries’ power grids. It said they also reaffirmed plans to build an Armenian-Iranian railway.
Larijani discussed these projects at a separate meeting on Saturday with Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian. “The interlocutors discussed promising directions for expanding bilateral economic cooperation,” read a statement issued by the Armenian government.
The Armenian premier is scheduled to travel to Tehran later this month on a visit that will focus on that cooperation.
The unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and other regional issues were also on the agenda of Larijani’s talks in the Armenian capital. Armenian parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian reiterated Yerevan’s appreciation of Tehran’s “impartial” position the conflict.
Meeting with Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, Larijani took a swipe at foreign powers, presumably the United States, which he said are “attempting to destabilize the region.” According to “The Tehran Times” daily, he said “all regional countries must stand against these malicious measures.”
The Iranian speaker openly denounced U.S. policy towards the region in a speech at Yerevan State University.