Iran FM holds talks in Georgia and Turkey

January 29, 2021 - 19:46

TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister has held talks with the leaders of Georgia and Turkey about bilateral and regional issues such as the crisis in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

In Georgia, Zarif met with Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili and Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia. He also held a telephone conversation with his Georgian counterpart David Zalkaliani during a visit to Tbilisi.

Zarif’s visit to Tbilisi was part of a regional tour that included Azerbaijan, Russia, Armenia, Georgia and Turkey.

During his stay in Tbilisi in the fourth leg of a tour of the Caucasus Zarif had a meeting with the Georgian president on Thursday morning to discuss the latest status of relations between Iran and Georgia and the situation in the region, according to a statement issued by Iran’s Foreign Ministry.

“The top Iranian diplomat congratulated Georgia on holding successful parliamentary elections, highlighted the historical relations between the two countries, and conveyed an invitation from the Iranian president for Ms. Zourabichvili to make a state visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the statement said. “On bilateral issues between Iran and Georgia, Foreign Minister Zarif expressed hope for promotion of cooperation between the two (near) neighbors in various fields of mutual interest, particularly the trade and economic interaction.”

The chief Iranian diplomat also called on Georgia to resolve problems facing the Iranian truck drivers and the Iranian nationals who reside in Georgia.

Zarif discussed the recent war in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. He explicated the Islamic Republic of Iran’s stance on using the opportunity in the wake of the recent clashes in the Karabakh region for the expansion of regional cooperation to the benefit of all parties and informed the Georgian president of the talks he has held on the subject in the regional countries.

“Transit corridor connecting Black Sea to Persian Gulf”

For her part, President Zourabichvili highlighted the historical ties between Georgia and Iran, pointing to the issues relating to the corridors connecting the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea, and emphasized the importance of economic cooperation between the two neighbors, joint investment, and cooperation in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Zarif discussed similar issues with Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia. He discussed topics pertaining to the relations between the two neighbors and the latest developments in the region following a recent flare-up of clashes in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, according to a separate statement issued by the Iranian foreign minister.

“Pointing to the economic and trade cooperation between Iran and Georgia, Foreign Minister Zarif said the two countries’ business sectors are willing to maintain and enhance trade cooperation and work on the joint production of goods,” the statement said. “He also cited a series of problems in bilateral trade ties and the restrictions on the banking, transit and transportation activities, calling on the Georgian prime minister to address these problems.”

The chief Iranian diplomat also touched on the latest conditions in the region after the Karabakh conflict and offered Iran’s evaluation of the circumstances with the purpose of establishing regional stability and calm.

In a tweet on Thursday, Zarif said, “In Tblisi, met with President
Zourabichvili_S and PM GakhariaGiorgi and held phone talk with self-quarantined FM DZalkaliani. Excellent discussions on expanding perennial bilateral ties & regional cooperation—especially a transit corridor connecting Black Sea to Persian Gulf.”

“Special opportunities”

Zarif met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on the final leg of his tour. The two foreign ministers held a joint press conference after their meeting.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey had very good relations with each other in difficult circumstances and will continue these relations seriously in any situation,” Zarif said, adding that Tehran and Ankara have “special opportunities” to cooperate on a variety of issues ranging from Syria to the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Zarif noted that six countries in the region – Iran, Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia- now have the opportunity to advance all-round cooperation in spheres of land routes, energy and railway.

Azeri, Turkish and Iranian FMs to meet in Tehran in near future

He expressed hope that these countries would continue to cooperate on regional issues. Zarif announced that Iran will convene a meeting between the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran in Tehran in near future.

“Today we had a very good conversation about transit, trade and energy cooperation, and we continue our mutual efforts to solve the problems of companies and individuals of the two countries that are investing in the other country,” Zarif said of his talks in Turkey.

“The presence of Turkish companies in Iran is very important for us and we hope that these companies can continue their presence in Iran without any obstacles. We are waiting for Mr. Erdogan in Iran and, God willing, we will determine the date soon, both for the High Summit on Strategic Cooperation and the Summit of the Astana Process,” the chief Iranian diplomat continued.

He underlined the need for the countries of the region to move away from the differences of the past and build on what was accomplished in the past.

“During our visits to the Republic of Azerbaijan, Russia, Armenia and Georgia, we emphasized that the past should be used positively as a path to the future and construction, and that the existing ceasefire should be ratified and strengthened through economic cooperation,” Zarif said, referring to the Russian-brokered ceasefire deal between Azerbaijan and Armenia that put an end to a 44-day between the two South Caucasus countries over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.  

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