Kocharian Khatami Discuss Ties

YEREVAN (Armenpress–Noyan Tapan)–Armenian President Robert Kocharian arrived in the Iranian capital of Tehran on December 25 at the official invitation of Iranian President Khatami. The president’s delegation includes Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian–Chief of Presidential Staff and Special Envoy for Armenia-Iran Relations Artashes Geghamian–Energy Minister Armen Movsissian–Transport & Communication Minister Andranik Manoukian–Minister of Culture–Youth Affairs and Sport Roland Sharoyan–Minister of Education & Science Levon Mkrtchian–Minister of Nature Protection Vardan Aivazian–Armenia’s Ambassador to Iran Gegham Gharibjanian–Syunik Governor Edik Barseghian and other officials.

President of Iran Mohammad Khatami met with his Armenian counterpart Robert Kocharian at the Sa’d-Abad Cultural Complex in northern Tehran. During the ceremony–the national anthems of the two countries were played and the two presidents reviewed a guard of honor. During discussions–the two leaders emphasized that common purposes in the region make the two countries closer. President Khatami called the Iranian-Armenian relations amiable–and said the sides have a huge potential for the further development and deepening of cooperation.

President Khatami also stated that the key to restoration of peace–security and progress in the region is cooperation among regional states. At a press conference attended by both leaders Khatami said–"we are in a sensitive part of the world and believe that peace–security and progress in the region can be established on condition of cooperation among regional states." He added that all efforts are concentrated on maintaining mutual respect and expansion of bilateral relations because the issue would not only be to mutual interests but will also be in favor of all regional states. He praised Armenia as Iran’s good neighbor that has had praiseworthy relations with Iran’since its independence.

President Khatami added however–that he believed there is yet much potential for further expansion of ties and it is hoped that during the Kocharian’s visit both sides would find out highly transparent and positive approaches for upgrading mutual cooperation.

During a working meeting the same day–both presidents discussed and signed more than 10 documen’s concerning the fields of energy–transportation–culture–environment–road-building–dam construction and customs with senior Iranian officials.

Kocharian also met with Iranian Foreign Minister Kharrazi. The minister voiced his country’s willingness for participation in Armenia economic development projects–expressing hope that the developing process of bilateral ties will accelerate in all fields in particular political and economic arenas. Calling participation of the Islamic Republic in the Karabakh peace process as necessary–President Kocharian said he appreciated Iran for its attempts to establish peace and stability in the region. For his part–Kharrazi expressed his satisfaction over developing bilateral ties and regional cooperation–underlining the significance of boosting relations with regional countries specially Armenia. Referring to the agreemen’s–reached between the two countries in various fields–including political–economic and cultural cooperation–the foreign minister expressed hope that Tehran-Yerevan economic ties will further expand in the wake of materialization of agreemen’s and in particular implementation of gas pipeline project.

Touching upon high economic capacities of the two countries–Kharrazi put great emphasis on reinforcement of bilateral economic ties including cooperation in the transportation–energy–industries and agriculture sectors.

Kocharian also visited the Armenian Embassy in Iran and the St. Sarkis church–where thousands of Armenia’s were gathered. The president met with the spiritual leader of Armenian Diocese of Tehran Archbishop Sepuh Sargsian. Kocharian also laid a wreath on the monument to the Victims of the Armenian Genocide and paid tribute to the Founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini by attending his mausoleum in southern Tehran.

Kocharian is also scheduled to attend a gala-concert of artists from Armenia at Tehran’s concert hall. On December 27–the delegation will return to Yerevan

In an exclusive interview with "Iran Daily" published Monday–Armenia’s Ambassador to Tehran–Gegham Gharibjanian commented on Kocharian’s trip to Iran. "Iran is a powerful country which during recent years has played an important role in settling regional crises such as the Karabakh conflict through its moderate and wise policies," he said.

The ambassador commented that the "preservation of cultural heritage and environment–commemoration of the two countries’ cultural events and academic cooperation are among other issues to be discussed. But the turning point of the visit will be the issuance of a joint–political communiqu," stressed the envoy–expressing hope that the visit would have a positive impact on the two countries’ foreign policy.

"Iran and Armenia enjoy excellent bilateral relations in the political field. But in the economic arena–unfortunately–mutual ties have not grown as they should," he regretted–expressing his belief that only a "strong determination at the national level is required to help promote bilateral economic exchanges."

The ambassador also mentioned that the trilateral meeting among Iran–Greece and Armenia–slated for next year’s spring–that will mainly focus on the activation of tourism industry between these countries as well as exchange of specialized work force.

Gharibjanian said that during the past three years–when he served as Armenia’s Ambassador to Iran–he witnessed positive developmen’s in Iran which assured him that this country will achieve prosperity despite various obstacles and challenges.

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