TEHRAN (IRNA)—Iran’s foreign minister and visiting Armenian energy and natural resources minister signed a bilateral cooperation document in oil, gas, water, electricity, commerce, business and industrial fields on Monday ahead of a planned visit by Iran’s President to Armenia.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a meeting with Armenian Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Armen Movsisian, said that the two countries have historical and cultural relations and the two nations do not feel to be apart from each other.
Referring to his upcoming visit to Armenia, Ahmadinejad expressed hope that during the trip, they would be able to make appropriate decisions for expansion and consolidation of bilateral ties.
According to IRNA Political Desk reporter, the comprehensive cooperation letter of agreement was signed Monday night after the 10th session of the Joint Economic Cooperation Commission of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Armenia at the Iran’s Foreign Ministry’s Institute for Political and International Studies.
Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi emphasized after signing the pact that efforts aimed at expansion of bilateral ties, particularly in economic field would continue, adding, “It is necessary that the reached agreements and the signed documents between Tehran and Yerevan would be implemented by both sides.”
The Iranian foreign minister pointed out that the volume of the two countries’ trade in the year 2010 increased 38 percent compared to the previous year to $270 million, adding, “this increased volume raised Iran’s status among Armenia’s major trade partners in the year 2010 from the 8th to the 4th place.”
Emphasizing that the current trade volume of the two countries does not match the existing potential and capacity, Salehi said, “now the conditions are ripe for increasing this volume to an acceptable level.”
He also referred to Iran and Armenia’s status in the transportation field, arguing, “keeping in mind Armenia’s unique position in the region, which can be connected to the Black Sea in the west on one hand, and to the Persian Gulf through Iran on the other hand, can bring very positive economic fruits both for our two countries, and for the entire region.”
Regarding the continuation of energy cooperation with Armenia he said, “Iran with its rich energy resources can be a reliable source for providing energy for the friend and neighbor country of Armenia.”
Referring to the reached agreements in that realm, the Iran’s top diplomat expressed hope that in such fields as gas, transfer of new oil and electricity industries, and other energy cooperation, the joint work would proceed in accordance with the reached agreements and the programs proposed by the technical experts.
Armenia’s Energy Minister Armen Movsisian, too, said, “Iran-Armenia relations are very high level and cooperation in such fields would keep on growing.”
He pointed out that the Armenian president attaches great importance to his country’s relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“The two countries enjoy very excellent political ties presently, which leads to the growth of cooperation in various other fields,” said Movsisian also emphasized in response to a reporter’s question on the situation in Karabakh, “Iran spares no effort aimed at solving that crisis.”
The Armenian official stressed that policies regarding Karabakh are based on regional interests.
At a meeting with Movsisian, an Iranian Railroad official Reza Pilpayeh said that the Iranian contractors are capable of building a railroad from New Julfa to the Nourdouz border and from that border to the city of Sisian in Armenia.
“Iranian contractors are currently building over 7,500 kilometers of railroad tracks. The ministry is ready to cooperate (with Armenia) by naming contractors. It is essential to set up a joint railroad commission to study the details of the project and the funds required. Then a memorandum of understanding (MoU) should be inked by the two sides,” added Pilpayeh.
Pilpayeh estimated that more than $2.5 billion will be needed to construct the railroad from Jolfa to Sisian which is to be made available by investors during the implementation of the project.
Movsisian, for his part, said the president of the two countries have discussed linking the railroad networks of Iran and Armenia.
“This railroad project will be implemented as part of the North-South Corridor and is economically feasible. Ex-Im Development Bank of Iran has had good collaboration with Armenia in procuring finances for various projects and we hope that the bank will also cooperate with us in this undertaking,” said Movsisian.
Executive operations to establish a third power transmission line to Armenia, with an output of 500 megawatts to 800 megawatts at a cost of over $110 million, will begin in two weeks, said Iran’s Energy Minister Majid Namjou on the sidelines of his meeting with Movsisian.
“It was decided that in the next few days, the Armenian side will hold a meeting with the Iranian contractor and resolve the remaining minor problems in relation with the transmission of power to Armenia so that the ground would be prepared for exchanging electricity between the two countries,” added Namjou.
He stated that during peak consumption of electricity in the country in summer, Armenia could supply Iran’s power demand.
“Building a hydroelectric power plant on Aras River is another issue between the two countries. It is expected that a 180 megawatt power plant be built in Iran and another 180 megawatt power plant be built in Armenia. A consortium has been formed by active Iranian companies to pursue the construction of a power plant in Armenia on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) mode at the cost of $450-500 million. At present, the issue of procuring the needed finances is being examined,” he added.