TEHRAN — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan visited Tehran and met with Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi on Tuesday one day after his latest talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev held in Russia.

Pashinyan said he briefed Raisi on his trilateral meeting with Aliyev and Russian President Vladimir Putin during their discussion of “issues on the regional agenda.”

“We consider it important that our Iranian partners are informed about what is happening in the context of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, Armenia-Turkey relations and the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” he told a joint news briefing with Raisi.

“The Caucasus region is a part of Iran’s history, civilization and culture, and we are sensitive to the Caucasus region,” Raisi said for his part. “Security and peace in the Caucasus region is very important for Iran.”

In that regard, he reiterated Iran’s opposition to “the presence of outside forces” in the region, saying that it can only aggravate regional problems.

It was not clear whether the Iranian leader referred to Western powers that have been trying hard to broker a peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Russia has denounced those peace efforts as disingenuous.

Tehran is also worried about Azerbaijani demands for the opening of a land corridor that would connect Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave through Syunik, the sole Armenian region bordering the Islamic Republic. It has repeatedly warned Baku against

Pashinyan praised “Iran’s principled position on regional peace and security.”

In their statements to the press, Raisi and Pashinyan spoke at greater length about their plans to deepen Armenian-Iranian commercial ties.

The Iranian president hailed a 43 percent rise in bilateral trade registered this year and said the two governments want to help increase it to $3 billion per annum in the near future. “We will definitely achieve this goal,” he said.

According to Armenian government data, Armenia’s trade with Iran reached $427 million in January-August 2022.

Pashinyan spoke of a “huge potential” for closer Armenian-Iranian cooperation in the energy, agriculture and road construction sectors.

Armenia’s Territorial Administration and Infrastructure Minister Gnel Sanosian, who accompanied the prime minister on the trip, met in Tehran with Iran’s Road Construction and Urban Development Minister Rostam Ghasemi and Energy Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian.

A statement by Sanosian’s ministry cited him as calling for Iranian companies’ participation in road construction projects in Armenia and Syunik in particular. It said he discussed with Ghasemi the planned construction of a 4-kilometer tunnel under a mountain pass in Syunik leading to the Iranian border.

The tortuous Kajaran pass situated over 2,500 meters above the sea level is frequently closed to traffic in winter months because of snowstorms and ice.

Iranian deputy oil minister Majid Chegeni stated that  gas exports to Armenia will double in the future. He made the announcement after Iran and Armenia signed a memorandum of understanding on economic cooperation in the energy field earlier today. The two countries thus extend the “gas for electricity” deal until 2030.

“Now we export one million cubic meters of gas to Armenia on a daily basis, which will be doubled based on the new memorandum,” Chegeni said.

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