Rouhani Meets Top NAM Statesmen

Bolivian President Evo Morales (L) shakes hands with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, in Venezuela on Sept. 17. Bolivian President Evo Morales (L) shakes hands with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, in Venezuela on Sept. 17.

President Hassan Rouhani held meetings with senior officials of the Non-Aligned Movement member states in Venezuela, calling for stronger unity among "independent" states in pursuit of their common goals.

On the sidelines of the 17th NAM summit on Margarita Island, Venezuela, Rouhani sat down with Bolivian President Evo Morales on Saturday to discuss the enhancement of Tehran-Sucre ties in various areas.

"There is no limit to expansion of cooperation between Tehran and Bolivia. The strengthening of such ties will be in line with the interests of both nations," Rouhani was quoted as saying by Press TV.

He emphasized the need for all "independent" nations to stand united in pursuing their common objectives, saying the Islamic Republic welcomes closer relations with Latin American states, especially Bolivia.

The Iranian chief executive expressed Tehran's readiness to help implement Bolivia's economic development plans, calling for increased mutual investment and business cooperation, particularly in the banking sector.

Morales hailed Iran's successful economic projects in Bolivia, saying Sucre wants an even more active participation of Iranian firms in the country.

During his stay, Rouhani also met with Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, both of whom emphasized the need for expanding bilateral ties in all spheres.

Rouhani said Iran and Ecuador have taken common positions on issues of regional and international significance, adding that such commonalities necessitate closer bilateral relations in various fields. The lifting of anti-Tehran sanctions as part of the July 2015 deal on the Iranian nuclear issue could serve as a good opportunity for Tehran and Quito to strengthen their ties.

"We are fully prepared to offer our experience and capabilities in the fields of science, technology and energy to our friend Ecuador," said Rouhani.

"In order to create dynamism in relations between the two countries, especially in private sectors, the expansion of banking ties is of great significance."

Correa said his country is determined to bolster bilateral ties with the Islamic Republic, saying the opportunity created by the removal of anti-Iran bans must be seized to that effect.

  Tehran-New Delhi Ties Benefit Region

In a separate meeting, Rouhani exchanged views with Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari on promoting Tehran-New Delhi economic cooperation.

The president said enhancement of bilateral relations will be in the interests of both nations as well as the entire region, which is suffering from extremism and terror threats. The Indian official hailed "lasting" relations between the two sides, describing a recent visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Iran as a new chapter in Tehran-New Delhi ties.

Another meeting also took place between the Iranian chief executive and Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra.

Rouhani said the Iranian and Algerian nations have stood together during hard times and must now work to broaden their economic relations after the lifting of nuclear-related embargoes against the Islamic Republic. Lamamra delivered a message from Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to Rouhani. The top diplomat said Iran-Algeria ties have been based on independence, adding that Algiers is determined to promote brotherly relations with Tehran.

On Saturday, Rouhani addressed the opening ceremony of the NAM summit. He officially submitted the body's rotating presidency for three years to his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro, and expressed Iran's support.

The NAM meeting brought together heads of state and delegates from member countries to discuss key regional and international issues.

NAM, an international organization with 120 member states and 21 observer countries, represents nearly two-thirds of UN members. It is regarded as not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.