Kocharian Visit Said to Boost Iran Armenia Ties

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Robert Kocharian will travel to Iran this autumn on an official visit aimed at bolstering the already close ties between the two neighboring states–official Yerevan announced on Friday.

Kocharian’s office said agreement on the visit was reached earlier this week during talks in Tehran between Iranian leaders and an Armenian presidential envoy. But it gave no precise date of the trip.

The chief of Kocharian’s staff–Artashes Tumanian–met with President Mohammad Khatami and other top officials during his three-day stay in Iran. According to the presidential press release–Tumanian welcomed Tehran’s "balanced" stance on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and stressed that peace and security in the South Caucasus is "impossible without Iran’s participation."

Khatami was quoted as saying that Kocharian’s visit will give a "serious boost" to the bilateral relationship and raise it to a "new qualitative level."

"The meetings also discussed Iran’s role in the formation of a North-South axis and Armenia’s necessary involvement in those processes," a presidential press release said without elaborating.

Also on the agenda of the talks was the implementation of several major Armenian-Iranian commercial projects–including the planned construction of a 140 kilometer gas pipeline.

Iran maintains close political and economic relations with Armenia–its sole Christian neighbor–despite the latter’s continuing conflict with Muslim Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

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