Kocharian met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Tehran during the two-day trip that marked his first major political engagement since resignation.
The official Iranian IRNA news agency cited Ahmadinejad as calling the Armenian-Iranian relationship “very friendly” and saying that the two neighboring countries are “determined to implement joint projects and play an active role in regional developments.”
Ahmadinejad said those developments are favoring “independent and justice-seeking nations around the globe.” “Those who have always masterminded plots against us are becoming very weak and the powerful states and their justice-seeking nations are on the right track, determined to broaden level of relations and cooperation with one another,” he told Kocharian on Thursday.
“The visiting former Armenian president, for his part, said that his country is to broaden all-out relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and underscored that the two sides enjoy ample untapped capacities to increase current level of mutual and regional relations and cooperation,” reported IRNA.
Kocharian was reported to give similar assurances to Mottaki on Wednesday. According to “The Tehran Times” daily, he also criticized “foreign powers’ prescriptions for resolving crises in the Caucasus region.” The paper did not elaborate.
Kocharian’s office in Yerevan said it will release details of the talks in the coming days. Victor Soghomonian, a spokesman for the ex-president, told RFE/RL that the visit was the result of a “state invitation” extended by the Iranian leadership.
It was not immediately clear if Kocharian acted in a purely personal capacity or carried messages to Tehran from his successor and longtime ally, Serzh Sarkisian. Kocharian has kept a low profile in Armenia since completing his second and final term in office in April 2008.
Kocharian presided over a deepening of Armenia’s economic cooperation with Iran, mainly focusing on energy, throughout his decade-long rule. He and Ahmadinejad inaugurated in March 2007 the first Armenian section of a natural gas pipeline connecting the two nations. The ex-president was also present at the official launch of the pipeline’s final section in December 2008.
Armenia began importing Iranian gas in May 2009, one month after Sarkisian’s official visit to Tehran during which the two governments reaffirmed plans to implement more joint energy projects. Those include the construction of a big hydro-electric plant on the Arax river marking the Armenian-Iranian border and a third high-voltage transmission line connecting the two countries’ power grids.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei welcomed the “expansion of amicable ties with the Armenian nation and government” during talks with Sarkisian.