Iran is determined to boost regional ties

June 15, 2022 - 20:53

TEHRAN – In a bid to strengthen regional ties, Iran exchanged visits with a number of regional countries with the purpose of putting the Iranian government’s strategic neighborhood policy initiated by President Ebrahim Raisi into motion.

Nearly a year into his administration, Iranian President Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi has come a long way in delivering on his campaign promise of cementing Iran’s relations with neighboring countries and regional powers. 

A flurry of diplomatic visits over the last few days indicated that Iran is forging ahead with what came to be known as “neighborhood policy,” a foreign policy shift brought about by President Raisi that aims to shore up Iran’s regional standing. 

Over the last few days, Iran made great strides toward achieving that objective. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian traveled to India and held high-level talks with the Indian leaders. Pakistan’s foreign minister arrived in Tehran. Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedow also came to Iran and met with President Raisi and Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran. 

Also, the speaker of the Armenian parliament and the Russian foreign minister are expected to visit Iran soon. In addition, Amir Abdollahian will embark on a tour of African countries in the coming days. 

This kind of diplomacy is in line with the neighborhood policy, which is strongly backed by the Leader. In his meeting with President Berdimuhamedow, Ayatollah Khamenei said “it is the Islamic Republic of Iran’s policy to expand ties with neighboring countries and this is a completely correct policy.”

The enhancement of relations was the main goal of the cooperation documents signed between Iran and Turkmenistan. Nine documents of cooperation and a joint statement were signed between Iran and Turkmenistan in the presence of Presidents Raisi and Berdimuhamedow.

Raisi said the visit of the Turkmen president to Iran “could be a turning point in relations between the two countries.”

He added, “My visit to Ashgabat last year could further activate cooperation between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkmenistan, especially in the field of gas swap, transit, and transportation, and good steps were taken in these areas.”

Appreciating the efforts of the former President of Turkmenistan in developing relations between the two countries, Raisi said, "I hope that the two countries will take good steps to develop relations in the new era."

Turkmenistan has acted as a springboard for more Iranian interaction with regional countries. Iran’s membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was made possible in a meeting in Ashgabat. In reality, the first breakthrough in the Raisi administration’s neighborhood policy came when Iran was granted full membership of the SCO after having long been on the sidelines of the regional economic bloc with observer status. 

Iran’s membership in the SCO was quickly translated into more trade. The value of Iran’s exports to the members of the SCO increased 41 percent in the Iranian calendar year 1400 (March 21, 2021-February 19, 2022) compared to the corresponding time in the year 1399.

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