Turkmen President Hails Longstanding Relations

As part of a three-leg tour of the Caucasus and Central Asia, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was in Ashgabat on Monday to confer with top Turkmen officials
Turkmen President Hails Longstanding RelationsTurkmen President Hails Longstanding Relations

Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow hailed the longstanding diplomatic ties with Iran and looked forward to the promotion of political and economic interactions between the two states.

He made the statement on Monday in a meeting with the visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, IRNA reported.

"It has been years of cordial relations in political, economic and cultural fields between the two countries and bilateral consultations have proved to be fruitful, as brotherly relations between Tehran and Ashgabat have been improving on a daily basis," Berdimuhamedow said.  

Zarif, leading a politico-economic delegation of more than 20 businesspersons and commercial representatives, set off on a tour of Turkmenistan, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan on Sunday to attend ceremonies marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Iran and the three countries after their independence and to focus on the issue of diplomacy in the region.

The tour started with a one-day visit to Turkmenistan where he met top officials to discuss regional developments and ways of expanding bilateral ties.

Iran and Turkmenistan share a border extending over 1,000 km. The two countries have good relations since Turkmenistan's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

The two countries have implemented a number of large-scale economic projects. They have built "Dostluk" (Friendship) border dam and implemented the North-South railroad project on the basis of a tripartite agreement signed in 2007 with the participation of Turkmenistan, Iran and Kazakhstan.

Iran also purchases electricity in Turkmenistan and ranks third in trade with Turkmenistan, due primarily to natural gas purchases. Turkmenistan has been exporting gas to Iran under a 1997 agreement.

Upon arrival on Sunday night, Zarif pointed to Iran's plans to expand trade ties with other nations in the wake of the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, noting that "signing memoranda of understanding and accords in the upcoming talks is highly probable".

"We have signed many MoUs with these countries and we will endeavor to implement them," he said.

The historical nuclear accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, limited Tehran nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

The top Iranian diplomat also said talks on the export of technical and engineering services is also on the agenda.

Last Tuesday, President Hassan Rouhani paid a visit to the northern port and special economic zone of Amirabad to inaugurate a number of development projects and launch the construction of others with the aim of increasing the capacity of Iran's rail network to provide Central Asian states, including Turkmenistan, a path to the open seas through Iran's rails and southern ports.

In addition, Zarif touched on common threats to regional countries while underlining that Iran-Turkmenistan relations have helped consolidate peace and stability in the region and the world.

"Our region is facing the threat of extremism and terrorism from all sides and we need close cooperation with regional countries," he said.

Zarif also met his Turkmen counterpart, Rashid Moradov, to confer on diplomatic and trade ties.

The foreign minister was to leave Ashgabat for Tbilisi on Monday evening. Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan will be the last leg of his tour of the Caucasus and Central Asian tour.

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