UNITED NATIONS (Azatutyun.am)—Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called for greater trade and investments between Iran and Armenia when he met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in New York late on Tuesday.
The two men reportedly focused on economic issues in what were their first face-to-face talks held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Rouhani was reported to say that Armenian-Iranian commercial ties lag far behind political relations between the two neighboring states. According to the Mehr news agency, he said Iran is ready to expand mutual energy supplies and help to launch a transport corridor connecting Black Sea and Persian Gulf ports via Armenia and Georgia.
“We are ready to encourage the private sector to engage in business in Armenia and facilitate Armenian companies’ investments [in Iran,]” added Rouhani.
Pashinyan likewise stressed the importance of enhancing the economic component of Armenia’s “special” relationship with Iran. He called for a faster implementation of joint energy projects agreed by the two governments.
One of those projects involves the ongoing construction of a third high-voltage transmission line that will connect Armenian and Iranian power grids. An Iranian construction company is due to finish it next year. The new line is meant to sharply expand a swap arrangement involving supplies of Armenian electricity and Iranian natural gas.
According to official Armenian statistics, Armenian-Iranian trade stood at a modest $263 million last year. Tehran and Yerevan hope that Iran’s provisional free-trade agreement with the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) signed in May will also boost it.
The deal was signed just days after the United States decided to re-impose economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic after pulling out of a 2015 international agreement on the Iranian nuclear program.
Rouhani and Pashinyan reportedly discussed implications of U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial move in a phone call later in May. Official statements on their meeting in New York made no mention of the issue.