TEHRAN — Iran’s President-elect Hassan Rohani has reportedly pledged to expand his country’s relations with Armenia in a written reply to a congratulatory letter from President Serzh Sarkisian.
“We hope that efforts made by Iran and Armenia will stimulate the development of bilateral relations in all directions,” Iranian news agencies quoted Rohani as saying. “We are going to expand our cooperation with Armenia through mutual understanding, trust and respect.”
Sarkisian likewise expressed hope for closer ties between the two neighboring nations last week when he congratulated Rohani on winning Iran’s presidential election. “I believe that with joint efforts we will elevate Armenian-Iranian inter-state relations to a qualitatively new level,” he wrote.
Sarkisian and Rohani have met on at least two occasions in the past. Rohani visited Yerevan in 2001 and held talks with Sarkisian, Armenia’s defense minister at the time, in his capacity as head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. The two men also met in Tehran in 2005.
Armenian-Iranian relations and economic cooperation in particular deepened during the eight-year presidency of Rohani’s controversial predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The two governments completed in 2007 a pipeline supplying Iranian natural gas to Armenia. They also started building last year a big hydroelectric plant on the Armenian-Iranian border.