YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenia’s ambassador to Iran has reportedly discussed with a senior Iranian official ways of reducing the impact of U.S. sanctions against Tehran on bilateral commercial ties.
According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Artashes Tumanyan briefed Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi on recent political developments in Armenia and his government’s foreign policy priorities when they met on Wednesday.
A statement released by the ministry on Thursday said they then discussed Armenian-Iranian relations.
“In particular, they spoke about deepening the political dialogue, developing economic cooperation in the conditions of American sanctions, organizing high-level mutual visits and a number of other issues,” added the statement. It gave no other details.
Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan made clear on December 22 that his government intends to “deepen not only economic but also political relations with Iran” despite the U.S. sanctions that have been re-imposed by President Donald Trump. He spoke at the official opening of an Armenian-Iranian joint venture in the northern city of Vanadzor.
Pashinyan said last month the United States “understands” Armenia’s desire to maintain a “special” relationship with the Islamic Republic.
Earlier in November, a team of U.S. officials visited Yerevan to explain the sanctions to Armenia’s government and private sector. Iran was also high on the agenda of U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton’s October trip to Armenia. Bolton said after talks with Pashinyan that commercial and other traffic through the Armenian-Iranian border is “going to be a significant issue” for Washington.
With Armenia’s borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey closed due to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Iran as well as Georgia serve as the sole conduits for the landlocked country’s trade with the outside world.
Armenia also imports Iranian natural gas and other fuel. The gas supplies should increase significantly after the ongoing construction of a third power transmission line connecting the two countries is completed next year.
According to official Armenian statistics, Armenia’s trade with Iran soared by 40 percent, to $297 million, in the first ten months of this year.