YEREVAN — Armenia hopes to broaden its relations with neighboring Iran, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Tuesday when he congratulated the top Iranian leaders on Nowruz, the ancient Persian New Year.

Armenian-Iranian ties remain of “special importance” to the Armenian government, Pashinyan said in a congratulatory message to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“I sincerely hope that in the near future we will witness the expansion of our bilateral multi-layered agenda, which will become a stimulus for the further deepening of our friendly relations for the benefit of the well-being of the Armenian and Iranian peoples and regional peace,” he wrote.

In a separate message to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Pashinyan expressed confidence that Yerevan and Tehran “will give a new rise” to that agenda this year.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani announced, meanwhile, that he is heading to Yerevan for a two-day visit. He said Tehran is “strengthening the neighborhood policy and prioritizing the Caucasus.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met with his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan in Geneva late last month. Amir-Abdollahian reaffirmed his country’s strong support for Armenia’s territorial integrity and opposition to “geopolitical changes” in the region.

Iranian leaders have repeatedly made such statements over the past year amid Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations on restoring transport links between the two South Caucasus states.

Such links are envisaged by the Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh. The deal specifically commits Yerevan to opening rail and road links between Azerbaijan and its Nakhichevan exclave.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev regularly demands an exterritorial land corridor that would pass through Syunik, the sole Armenian province bordering Iran. Armenian leaders maintain that Azerbaijani citizens and cargo cannot be exempt from Armenian border controls.

Iran has warned Azerbaijan against attempting to strip the Islamic Republic of the common border and transport links with Armenia.

 

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