Deepening ties with neighbors a priority of Raisi’s foreign policy

September 6, 2021 - 22:25

TEHRAN-- The Ebrahim Raisi administration has shown in its theory and practice that it has a serious will to improve relations with neighbors and regional states. It is a policy that, if there is a serious will on the part of the sides, will lead to the establishment of lasting stability and security in the region.

Since the victory of Raisi in the June presidential elections, officials, from Raisi himself to other members of his cabinet, have drawn the path of foreign policy with their continuous stances, a route that passes through neighboring countries and the region instead of the West, IRNA reported.

In his remarks, Raisi has always emphasized resolving the region's crises and problems through dialogue, stating that his administration's foreign policy priority is to improve relations with neighbors. This strategy of the current administration in the field of foreign policy can be clearly seen during the inauguration of Raisi as president. 

"The Islamic Republic of Iran considers neighboring countries and nations as its ‘relatives’ and considers it the most important and main priority of its foreign policy to promote relations with neighboring countries and wants their dignity and respect," the president emphasized.

A few days after the new administration in Iran started its work, the "Regional Summit in Support of Iraq" was also held. The meeting was attended by nine countries. It was attended by Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Turkey and France.

"What we need more than ever today is" sustainable regional security "with the participation of the countries of the region," said Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian at the summit in Baghdad on August 28. "Security can only be achieved through mutual trust between the countries of the region, reliance on national capabilities, strengthening communication and good neighborliness, and non-interference by foreign countries."

Iran has so far shown in practice that deepening cooperation with neighboring countries and the region is a priority. Partnerships will pave the way for regional security and lead to stability and security in the Middle East. At the same time, they could help end the presence of American and European forces in West Asia, particularly in the Persian Gulf.

Regarding Iran's cooperation with Iraq which has now become the center of regional convergence, it should be noted that in recent years trade between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Iraq has reached more than $12 billion. The existence of eight active border crossings between the two countries and the continuation of trade exchanges in these crossings, even despite the outbreak of the coronavirus, indicate the economic entanglement of the two countries.

In addition, Iran has made a significant contribution to the development of Iraq's economic and trade relations in recent years by exporting technical and engineering services, gas and electricity to the country. Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic has spared no effort to help Iraq in the fight against terrorism. 

Evidence shows that Iran and other Arab countries in the region are determined to improve relations, and that their strong will has led them to come together in Baghdad. Undoubtedly, this can herald optimism about resolving differences and healing rifts between the countries of the region if there is a will on the part of each side.

The resumption of Iran-Saudi Arabia talks through Iraq's mediation is also a positive sign that bodes well for regional cooperation. 

Following the summit, Iran's ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi, announced that a fourth round of talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia would be held. 

"Through the cooperation of the Iraqi government, we held three rounds of talks with Saudi Arabia in Baghdad, and the fourth round will be held following the formation of the new Iranian administration," he said at the Iraqi Rafidan Dialogue Center on regional relations and Iraq's role in bringing Iran and Saudi Arabia closer together. 

Prior to the Baghdad summit there were speculations about possible formal talks between Iranian and Saudi officials. However, this did not happen.

A few days after the meeting, however, Iran’s foreign minister announced in a televised interview that he had a brief conversation with the Saudi foreign minister on the sidelines of the Baghdad summit. 

"I had a dialogue with the Saudi foreign minister at this summit. The Saudi side also congratulated and pointed out that with the formation of the new administration, we will start our relations with Iran, but no negotiations were held with the Saudis during this trip and summit," Abdollahian said.

Some observers believe that the failed experience of trusting the West during these years is one of the reasons why the Raisi administration tends to have better ties with neighbors and regional states. 

In particular, in his recent remarks the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized the Rouhani administration’s inclination toward the West.

The Leader said on August 18 that "wherever you have made your work dependent on the West, you have failed. In this administration, it turned out that trust in the West does not work. Wherever you left things to the West and negotiation with it and the United States, you failed.”

Experts believe that the Raisi administration will have a different view of international affairs and foreign policy than the previous administration. Therefore, the Raisi administration, while paying attention to neighboring countries and the region, pays special attention to the 25-year strategic partnership with China, as well as the 20-year comprehensive cooperation with Russia. The Raisi administration is also expected to have a look on emerging powers such as Brazil, India and South Africa.

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