Tehran, Baku push for closer ties 

December 27, 2016

TEHRAN – In a meeting attended by senior Iranian and Azeri officials in Baku on Tuesday, the two sides underscored the importance of all-encompassing relations, particularly in the economic sector. 

“Economic relations between the two countries have made great progress as compared to the previous year,” Iran’s ICT Minister Mahmoud Vaezi was quoted as saying at a meeting with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.  

Vaezi arrived at Baku on Tuesday for a three-day visit to attend the 11th meeting of the Azerbaijani-Iranian intergovernmental commission on economic, trade and humanitarian issues.

In the meeting, Vaezi highlighted trade opportunities in Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan, saying he will visit the autonomous republic to discuss investment-related issues.

Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is a landlocked exclave of Azerbaijan with an estimate population of 430,000 people, according to Trend news agency. 

He also expressed Iran’s readiness to shore up cooperation between the two countries concerning Nakhcivan in various fields, including gas, transport and medicine.

A document on cooperation between the two countries will be signed in the autonomous republic, Vaezi said, adding that the two sides will review the construction process of a dam over Aras River in Nakhchivan’s Ordubad, as well. 

Relations between Tehran and Baku has expanded over the past years particularly during the Rouhani administration. 

In a February visit to Tehran by President Aliyev, the two sides signed 11 memorandums of understanding in areas of transportation, electricity swap, health and medicine, oil, gas, and petrochemicals, etc. 

Also, Iran and Azerbaijan have been working on a key North-South transport corridor, which is expected to connect Northern Europe to Southeast Asia through their territories, a key theme in Vaezi’s talks with Azeri officials during his visit. 

According to preliminary estimates, the overall capacity of the rail link will be 1.4 million passengers and 5-7 million metric tons of cargo a year. 

Trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Iran amounted to $175 million in January-November 2016, $130.13 million of which explained by imports from Iran, according to the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan.

Iranian companies have so far invested $2.6 billion in Azerbaijan’s economy, some $145 million of which is accounted for by investment in the country’s non-oil sector. 

The investment has been the result of more than 450 Iranian companies operating in Azerbaijan.

AK/PA 

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