Iran, Russia taking alliance to new level
Iran’s Minister of Communication and IT Mahmoud Vaezi is heading to Moscow on Tuesday with a delegation of 70 traders as the two major allies fast-track their expansion of ties in time for the lifting of sanctions.
Several key issues are to be discussed, including Russia’s plans to open a $5 billion credit line for Iran, the idea of establishing a joint bank and Iran’s membership in the Eurasian Development Bank.
“Relations between Iran and Russia have entered a new phase in all aspects. In our visit, we will negotiate with the Russians about diverse issues,” Vaezi told reporters in Tehran on the eve of the visit.
Oil, gas and petrochemicals as well as construction of power plants and railways are some of the areas reserved for discussion, he said.
Vazei and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak are to chair a meeting of a joint economic commission to discuss “comprehensive packages for expansion of ties in various fields and make necessary decisions”, the IRNA news agency said.
The Iranian minister is tagged along by representatives of leading state and private organizations.
“Given the current situation, Iran-Russia relations have undergone a new change from political, cultural, security and international perspective and we hope to be able to expand our economic and industrial ties in pace with them,” Vaezi said.
The visit follows Novak’s trip to Tehran last month with a large delegation of representatives from 50 Russian companies.
Novak announced Russia’s plan to open a $5 billion credit line for infrastructure projects in Iran, including electrifying a train line connecting north central Iran to the northeastern border with Turkmenistan at a cost of $1.2 billion.
The minister called Iran as Russia’s “most important economic and trade partner”, saying bilateral trade stands at “more than $1 billion which is not enough” and has to be raised.
Novak said Tehran and Moscow have devised a package of projects that are collectively worth $35 billion to $40 billion.
In his visit, the two countries discussed expanding trade in oil, gas, electricity, transport, and telecommunications as well as defense cooperation.
Russia has acted quickly to cement ties with Iran after the international nuclear accord reached with Islamic Republic in July.
Moscow has indicated to allow Iran into the Eurasian economic, political and military bloc, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), after sanctions are lifted on Tehran.
The two countries are also working to create a joint bank and carry out their transactions in local currencies.
Iran is also interested in joining the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB), founded in 2006 by intergovernmental agreements between Russia and Kazakhstan.