Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian said that Tehran and Baku are discussing ways to boost cooperation in the energy sector, highlighting that Azerbaijan will serve as a link to connect Iran’s electricity grid with Russia and Georgia.
Ardakanian said, on Tuesday on the sidelines of his meeting with Azerbaijani Economy Minister Shahin Mustafayev in Tehran, that Iran is mulling over plans to connect its power grid to Russia through the Republic of Azerbaijan.
“We are considering plans for connecting the country's power grid to Russia through the Republic of Azerbaijan, which will help synchronize Iran’s power system with that of Russia,” he said.
Ardakanian voiced satisfaction at the level of cooperation between Iran and Azerbaijan, saying that the two countries’ joint commission meeting on economic cooperation will be held in Baku in the near future.
He also added that during his talks with the Azeri economy minister, the possibility of electricity cooperation with Turkey through Azerbaijan in the form of the Regional Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) was discussed and the two sides agreed to take the necessary steps in this regard.
The Azeri economy minister, for his part, said the two sides exchanged views on the potentials of tripartite energy cooperation between ‘Iran-Azerbaijan-Russia’, ‘Iran-Azerbaijan-Georgia’ and ‘Iran- Azerbaijan-Turkey’.
Also on Tuesday, Mustafayev met with Iranian Economy Minister Farhad Dejpasand where the two sides pledged to ink extensive economic agreements between the two countries in areas of monetary, financial and banking cooperation for strengthening mutual economic cooperation, specially on the completion of the International North–South Transportation Corridor project.
Dejpasand stressed that Iran always considers development of relations with its neighbors, specially Azerbaijan, as one of its strategic policies.
Azerbaijan has a special place in the foreign policy of Iran as it could be witnessed through the numerous meetings between the two countries' presidents over the past five years, the Iranian minister said.
Referring to the insufficient speed of the progress in some joint projects, including the final stages of the Rasht-Astara railway project, Dejpasand proposed to create a special group to monitor the implementation of the agreements signed between the two countries, a suggestion that was welcomed by the Azerbaijani side.
The Iranian economy minister also called for signing a bilateral monetary and financial agreement and the development of banking cooperation between Iran and Azerbaijan, saying that the cooperation in economic field should be at the same level as the political relations between the two countries.
Mustafayev, for his part, expressed readiness to sign a monetary and banking agreement as well as to cooperate more on completing the remaining parts of the Rasht-Astara railway project.
The Azerbaijani official also referred to a 74% increase in trade between the two countries last year, putting the value of the bilateral trade at $450 million, while saying that of a total $450 million, $420 was the value of the Iranian exports to Azerbaijan. He furthermore called for increasing bilateral trade to new levels.
He also underlined the full support of the Azerbaijani government to the Iranian investors in his country, saying that an Iranian car company there has reached the desirable profit-making level.
The Azerbaijani minister further added that his country is trying to conclude a new contract with Iranian companies for production of buses there.
“Azerbaijan's support for Iranian companies and its serious determination to develop cooperation with Iran may be unacceptable to some governments, but as an independent country, we are determined to develop relations with Iran,” Mustafayev further noted.
Iran and Azerbaijan share abundant historical, cultural and religious commonalities and Iran is very serious to further expand ties and cooperation with Azerbaijan, said Governor General of Iran’s West Azerbaijan Province Mohammad Mahdi Shahriyari, in a meeting with a visiting delegation from the Republic of Azerbaijan, back in mid-January.
A week before the January meeting, Azeri Parliament Speaker Ogtay Asadov said that trade exchanges between the two countries have increased to $400 million over the past nine months to December 21 from $257 million in 2017
Asadov made the remarks in a meeting with Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri in Baku.
The top parliamentarian called Iran and Azerbaijan as two friendly states, saying that there exist good conditions for deepening ties based on historical, cultural and religious commonalities.
He underlined the political resolve of the two countries’ leaders for boosting cooperation, and said that the two countries’ presidents have met 12 times over the past five years and the talks focused on national interests of the two nations.