Deputy FM: Gas swap to begin early January

December 24, 2021 - 23:52

BAKU, the Republic of Azerbaijan — On the sidelines of Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian’s visit to the Republic of Azerbaijan, Tehran Times correspondent got a chance to interview Mehdi Safari, the Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy.

Safari who was accompanying Amir Abdollahian told the Tehran Times that he will be back in Baku in a few days to follow up on the latest status of agreed projects between the two countries. 

The following is the text of the interview.

Q: My first question is does Iran plan to take part in the reconstruction of the liberated lands of Azerbaijan?

A: In the visit of Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian to Baku and in his meeting with the Azeri president, an agreement was reached that Iran would actively participate in the reconstruction of the liberated lands in the 44-day war. Also, we promised to participate in major projects. In the coming days, I will return to Baku to discuss the details of the agreement. 

I believe we will get some major projects and create new jobs by reconstructing the liberated lands. 

Q: When is the gas swap deal between Iran, Turkmenistan and the Republic of Azerbaijan going to go into effect. And did this come up in the discussions between the foreign minister and the Azeri officials?

A: This agreement was signed in Ashgabat. I believe this project will commence in early January. The technical aspects are being prepared, and I believe the project will commence in the beginning of January. Iran hopes to increase the capacity of this cooperation to higher levels. 

Q: What is the current volume of trade between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan.  And what is the government’s plan to increase the trade level?

A: At this moment, the ties are not that strong. In the past, we used to have a good economic relationship, but in the past years, this relationship began to decline. We are trying to boost the trade level to up to $1b, but this will happen when we begin reconstructing the liberated lands in the 44-day war (in 2020). 

Thankfully, with the agreement we had with the president of the Republic of Azerbaijan, we agreed on the reconstruction of the second bridge in Astara, as well as the railway connecting ports as soon as possible, so our trading connections to Russia and Azerbaijan would increase. There has also been talks about other routes, but it will be publicized when it is executed.