First EU Iran Armenia Meeting Focuses on Gas Pipeline

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan–Armenpress)–The first trilateral meeting between the European Union–Iran and Armenia–held in Yerevan Friday–focused on the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline construction project. The goal of the meeting was to involve the European Union in discussions on the gas pipeline construction project–Energy Minister Karen Galustian–the head of the Armenian delegation–said.

The project–with an estimated cost of $120 million–was launched in 1992. As a result of three years of negotiations–in 1995 Russia’s Gazprom and Iran’s gas company signed an agreement on the installation of an Iran-Armenia gas pipeline. However–the project was not carried out due to lack of funds–despite Armenia’s attempts to obtain financing from the World Bank–the European Bank and Western commercial banks and companies.

The EU delegation is led by Head of Unit DG1 of the European Commission’s Caucasian Division Cornelis Wittebroot. Iran’s delegation is headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Mohammad Hussein Adel. The Armenian delegation includes Armenia’s Ambassador to Iran Gegham Gharibjanian–Energy Ministry officials and heads of energy-related institutes.

Earlier that day–President Robert Kocharian met with the Iranian delegation–which emphasized that Iran attaches particular importance to developing political–economic and cultural relations with Armenia.

Referring to the prospects of trilateral relations–the sides stressed the need for raising the efficiency of the mutually beneficial programs. Describing cooperation in the sphere of transportation as one of the key trends of bilateral ties–Mohammad Hussein Adel underscored that Iran was extremely interested in prospects of transit shipmen’s via Armenia.

The sides also discussed the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline construction project.

Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian also met with Adel. The two leaders praised the current level of relations between Armenia and Iran–stressing the importance of further developing ties. Iran’s deputy foreign minister stressed Armenia’s significant role for the region and consequently for Iran.

The sides also discussed possibilities of further developing economic cooperation between the two countries. In particular–they referred to the potential for developing mutually advantageous cooperation in the sphere of transportation of energy sources. The sides also discussed the possibility of exporting Iranian gas via Armenia to other countries and turning Armenia into a transit countries for the import of goods to Iran. The two officials also discussed prospects of further encouraging trade between the two states.

The Iranian deputy foreign minister also met with National Assembly Speaker Armen Khatchatrian–who stressed the importance of giving a new–practical impetus to both political and economic bilateral cooperation.

The two sides noted with satisfaction the reported activation of co-operation between the two neighboring countries over the last two months.

The two sides agreed that many joint projects being currently realized have international and political significance for the region. Armenia and Iran are important chains of the East-West axis–and they will continue participating in the international integration processes.

Mohammad Hossein Adeli welcomed measures taken by the government in Meghri–located on the border with Iran–saying that Iran is very interested in the programs–which may attract many Iranian investors to participate in some ventures–particularly in improving the roads and tourism development.

Both sides underscored the importance of Iran-Armenia gas pipeline. Adeli said that funding for the construction of the Iranian section of the pipeline had been secured and foreign investors were being sought for the project.

Prime minister Markarian suggested that Iran make major investmen’s in those Armenian ventures where gas is used as a raw material. He also considered the possibility of building an Iran-Armenia oil pipeline and an oil processing plant in Meghri.

Adeli said these proposals may be of interest for Iran–adding that Iran is greatly encouraged by the prospects of transportation of goods through Armenia–which will be promoted after roads are reconstructed and the Kajaran tunnel is built.

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