Iranian president in Armenia on first leg of Central Asia tour
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has arrived in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, on the first leg of a Central Asia tour, which will also take him to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan at the invitation of the respective countries’ heads of state.
Heading a high-ranking political and economic delegation, the Iranian chief executive left Tehran early Wednesday for Yerevan. President Rouhani was welcomed by Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan at the airport upon arrival.
Shortly afterwards, an official welcoming ceremony was held for President Rouhani at the presidential palace.
Later in the day, the Iranian and Armenian presidents attended the signing ceremony of five memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and cooperation agreements between Tehran and Yerevan in different areas, including tourism, sports and culture.
Rouhani is scheduled to hold meetings with designated parties in Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan followed by the signing of documents, which will enable further expansion of bilateral ties with each nation.
Together with Russia and Belarus, the countries form the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).
Ahead of his departure, Rouhani said ties with the three countries are highly important to Iran in the light of mutually-beneficial economic potentials.
The Iranian president further said cooperation with the three countries will contribute to the Islamic Republic’s national security.
“Over the past years, we have established closer ties with this group (EAEU),” said Rouhani, adding, “We are pursuing economic relations featuring preferential tariffs and ultimately free trade with these countries.”
The upcoming talks will also focus on the issues of terrorism and insecurity as well as unity among the nations concerning regional issues, Rouhani said.
On December 6, Iran’s Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade said the country could be signing a preferential trade agreement with the EAEU in one or two months.
The potential signing of the deal would be followed by efforts to reach a free trade agreement with the body, the ministry added.
In a recent meeting with Iran’s Ambassador to Yerevan Seyyed Kazem Sajjadi, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said Rouhani’s trip would be a historic opportunity for the enhancement of mutual relations.