Tabnak – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani is on an official trip to two neighboring states, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. Exploring ways for the enhancement of bilateral relations, as well as coordinating efforts on regional issues are at the top of the agenda of his visits.
Iranian state media Press TV reports that President Hassan Rouhani has begun the new Iranian year with a trip to neighboring Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, signaling Tehran’s focus on connectivity as the cornerstone of reviving links with traditional trade partners.
Iran’s plans are in synergy with development strategies of the surrounding countries calibrating to a major change which has started in trade routes in the wake of China’s massive project to build a modern-day “Silk Road” at a cost of $1 trillion. Iran seeks to revive its traditional position as the transport hub in the heart of Eurasia and a vital link between the East and the West.
The strategy has found added momentum after a landmark nuclear deal in 2015 failed to put an end to years of estrangement between the Islamic Republic and the West. Tehran is now trying to reroute trade to the places which are less susceptible to outside arm-twisting.
The country is buoyed up by China’s heavy engagement, especially in Iran’s evolving railway sector, and their plan to raise bilateral trade to $600 billion per year within the next decade.
Last February, Tehran received the first freight train from China in a dry run of Beijing’s spectacular “Belt and Road” initiative, followed by the Chinese Export-Import Bank’s inking of a $1.5 billion deal to electrify the rail line from Tehran to Mashhad and its promise to invest $9 billion in over two dozen other projects.
The 926-kilometer railway between Tehran and Mashhad is part of the 3,200-kilometer new Silk Road which goes all the way to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Urumqi in China.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are building up their own transportation economy to diversify away from reliance on oil and gas, which overlaps in Iran as do all the other development strategies.
As President Rouhani began his visit to the two countries on Tuesday, he said there existed “enormous capacities for an all-embracing development of relations” among Tehran, Baku and Ashgabat which would be on the agenda of talks.
“One of the goals of the (Iranian) administration is proximity with the neighboring countries. In this trip, besides developing traditional trade and economic relations with Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, the issue of the regional transit and connecting southern waters to the Central Asian region and the Caucasus is important,” he told reporters.
Rouhani said two railway projects linking Chabahar port in southeast Iran to Central Asia and Rasht in northern Iran to Astara in Azerbaijan are currently in progress.
During his visit to Baku, Iranian and Azerbaijani officials will sign the document for the construction of the Rasht-Astara railway which will connect Iran to the Caucasus, Russia and Europe, the president said.
The two countries will also sign a cooperation agreement on oil and gas in the Caspian Sea, “which is an important document for development of economic relations between Tehran and Baku,” Rouhani added.
The president is accompanied by a number of traders and representatives of the private sector, who are about to discuss cooperation in industry, agriculture, health and tourism.
سایت تابناک از انتشار نظرات حاوی توهین و افترا و نوشته شده با حروف لاتین (فینگیلیش) معذور است.