Rouhani Pushes INSTC in Baku

Rouhani Pushes  INSTC in Baku
Rouhani Pushes  INSTC in Baku

President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Sunday to attend trilateral talks today with Moscow and the host country, mainly focusing on a massive project to build the International North–South Transport Corridor.

Speaking to reporters before leaving Tehran, Rouhani highlighted the importance of the meeting.

"This is the first trilateral summit between Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia, which is of paramount importance, given the situation in the region and the Caucasus," he said.

The president said he would discuss a number of other issues with Azeri and Russian officials, including expansion of free trade between Iran and Eurasian countries and cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

Upon arrival in Baku, Rouhani held talks with his Azeri counterpart, Ilham Aliyev.

After the meeting, Aliyev said his trip to Tehran in February and Rouhani's visit signal a speedy development in bilateral cooperation.

"There has always been mutual understanding between the two countries, which we are keen to draw on to expand our relations," Aliyev said.

"Since February, we have made progress on many issues in economic, transport and energy sectors. I am confident that relations will further develop."

Rouhani was also to meet one-on-one with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the summit.

INSTC is a major international project that seeks to connect India to Europe and Central Asia via Iran and Azerbaijan.

The corridor is aimed at bolstering trade links between major cities such as Mumbai, Moscow, Tehran, Baku, Bandar Abbas, Astrakhan and Bandar Anzali.

Iran is working to complete the missing link of the 205-km-long Qazvin-Rasht-Astara railroad, which is part of the major project.

It involves the construction of 369 km of bridges and railroad tracks to link the southern sections to northern ones.

Once completed, 22 new tunnels and 15 bridges will have been added to the route.

As part of the INSTC initiative, Iran also finalized a deal with India and Afghanistan in May to develop its southern Chabahar Port, a project first proposed in 2003 but suspended after the tightening of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. The sanctions were removed under last year's nuclear deal between Iran and major powers.