Economy, Domestic Economy

Salmond Leads Bid to Boost Scottish Links With Iran

Salmond Leads Bid to Boost Scottish Links With IranSalmond Leads Bid to Boost Scottish Links With Iran

Scotland’s former first minister, Alex Salmond, led a fact-finding mission to Tehran this week to open a dialogue between Scotland and Iran and boost economic and cultural links between the two nations.

Salmond, who is also the foreign affairs spokesman of the Scottish National Party, was joined by a group of Scottish members of parliament, including Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, for the four-day visit, which ended on Tuesday.

The delegation met with Iranian ministers covering foreign affairs, education and energy five months after western sanctions against Iran were lifted after the country agreed to limit its nuclear activities, wrote Scottish daily newspaper The National.

Salmond, who is a member of both the Scottish and United Kingdom parliaments, said it was “vital” that Scotland was in a strong position to do business with Iran.

“The international agreement with Iran and rapprochement with the West which have accompanied is the single most positive development in international relations over the last year,” he said.

“Now that Iran has taken these steps forward to return to international community, many countries have been pursuing the prospect of a new marketplace for their goods and a new trading partner … It is vital that Scotland is not left behind as our key strengths, particularly in education, agricultural technology and oil and gas and finance, are precisely what Iran will find useful after 25 years of sanctions.”

Salmond said the mission, which also involved talks with the Governor of Iran’s Central Bank Valiollah Seif, paved the way for an education and business delegation in the spring, which would then be reciprocated by a similar group from Iran to Scotland.

Ahmed-Sheikh, the SNP Westminster Trade and Investment spokeswoman, who is vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Iran, said there was a huge potential to develop educational links with Iran as currently only 6% of applicants for a master’s degree were accepted onto programs in Scottish universities.

“This would indicate a key area of investment within Iran and an opportunity for educational institutions elsewhere to meet this demand. Educational partnerships will be good for us and good for Iran,” she added.