YEREVAN (Arka)—Visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif reconfirmed Tuesday his government’s plans to implement several joint projects with Armenia, including the construction of hydropower plants on the Arax river along the Iran-Armenia border and a railway from Iran to Armenia.
Speaking at a joint news conference with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian in Yerevan, Zarif said Tehran has political will for the implementation of joint projects and just needs to solve some technical problems.
According to him, the Iranian side is awaiting experts to approve the technical parameters of the power plants to start construction.
A special ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the hydropower plants was held in 2012. The hydroelectric power plants, which will straddle the river Arax, will have the capacity to produce 130 megawatts (MW) of electricity. The two plants one on each side will annually produce 793 million kilowatts per hour of electricity. According to Iranian officials, the construction will last for five years and is estimated to cost $323 million.
On construction of the railway, Zarif said the sides had effective negotiations and good decisions were taken. “We hope that we will kick off the project as soon as possible,” he said.
The 305 kilometer-long railway from Armenia to Iran, to be named the Southern Armenian Railway (SAR), is estimated to cost some $3.2 billion. The high cost of the project is explained by mountainous terrain through which it is supposed to pass.
Specifically, it will have 64 bridges and 60 tunnels. The railway is to run from Gagarin station in Armenia’s Gegharkunik province to Agarak in southern Syunik and may transport up to 25 million tons of cargo a year.
The Armenian government says the Southern Armenia Railway will create the shortest transportation route from the ports of the Black Sea to the ports of the Persian Gulf and establish a major commodities transit corridor between Europe and the Persian Gulf region.”
Speaking at the press conference, Zarif said the relationship between Armenia and Iran is the best example of peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims.
“There is Armenian community in Iran today, and this is a fact, and bilateral relations between Armenia and Iran serve as a good example of coexistence of Christianity and Islam,” he said.
Zarif expressed hope for further development of cooperation between the two countries in communication, electronics, environmental protection and water resource management, Novosti-Armenia reported.