Oskanian Meets, Ahmadinejad, Other Iranian Leaders

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian met with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other top Iranian officials on Sunday during a one-day visit to Tehran which officials said focused on bilateral relations and regional security. Official Armenian and Iranian sources reported few details of the talks, citing only the two sides as reaffirming their commitment to strengthening political and economic ties between the two neighboring states. According to the official IRNA news agency, Ahmadinejad said those ties "contribute to peace and security in the region," adding that "all available resources should be exploited to realize their potential." Oskanian, according to the Foreign Ministry in Yerevan, stressed the importance of the "special relationship" binding Armenia and Iran, saying that it is based on their "centuries-old friendship and cultural-historical similarities." A ministry statement said he discussed a "broad range of bilateral and regional issues," including the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, at a separate meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. The two men praised the ongoing construction of a pipeline that will supply Armenia with Iranian natural gas and a third transmission line that will link the two countries’ power grids, the statement said. Another Iranian news agency, Fars, reported in that regard that Ahmadinejad "stressed the need to speed up" work on the pipeline’s first Armenian section which is financed from a $35 million Iranian loan. Armenian officials said earlier that it will be complete by December 20. But speaking to journalists after talks with Oskanian, Mottaki was reported to say that the 40-kilometer section will not come on stream before next March. Oskanian also met with Iranian parliament speaker Gholamali Haddad Adel and Ali Larijani, a top security official in charge of the Islamic Republic’s controversial nuclear program criticized by the West. Larijani was reported to brief Oskanian on "the latest developmen’s relating to Iran’s nuclear program."At Ali Larijani’s request, Minister Oskanian presented the current phase of negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," the statement said.

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