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Armenia’s territorial integrity Iran’s red line: FM Zarif

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) meets with his Armenian counterpart Ara Ayvazyan in Yerevan on January 27, 2021. (Photo by IRNA)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has stressed the importance of national sovereignty and independence in all regional countries, saying Armenia’s territorial integrity is a red line for the Islamic Republic.

Zarif made the remarks in a meeting with his Armenian counterpart Ara Ayvazyan in Yerevan on Wednesday.

Describing Armenia as an important neighboring country for Iran, the Iranian foreign minister said the two nations, as two ancient civilizations with a long history, enjoy friendly relations based on good neighborliness.

He further hailed as “courageous” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's decision to agree a ceasefire to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict last year, because, he said, otherwise the region would have suffered from a prolonged conflict.

Additionally, the Iranian foreign minister expressed regret at the humanitarian damage caused by recent clashes in the region and voiced Iran's readiness to provide assistance in this regard.

The latest round of clashes in the disputed Karabakh region became the worst fighting in the region in decades. 

The decades-long Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan flared up in late September, resulting in military and civilian casualties on both sides.

The hostilities ended after the sides agreed to a Moscow-brokered ceasefire in November, which secured territorial advances for Azerbaijan in Karabakh and seven surrounding districts and the deployment of Russian peacekeepers to the region.

Since the truce, the two ex-Soviet republics have accused each other of breaching the peace deal that ended six weeks of fierce fighting.

Iran, an immediate neighbor to both Armenia and Azerbaijan, has voiced its readiness to do its utmost to help consolidate the ceasefire. 

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has been populated by ethnic Armenians.

The presence of foreign terrorists in the region is a common concern of the two countries, Zarif said, adding that Iran stands ready to cooperate with Armenia and other neighboring states to help promote economic development for the common interests of regional countries.

Productive consultations with Armenian PM and FM.

Reviewed common regional challenges & opportunities following recent conflict.

Agreed on further strengthening bilateral ties & regional cooperation - incl on connectivity projects: turning old rivalries into future synergies.

— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 27, 2021

The top Armenian diplomat, for his part, said the two countries' relations are based  on mutual respect and trust.

He also emphasized the importance of close political, economic and trade talks with Iran as the fourth economic partner of Armenia.

Referring to regional stability and security, Ayvazyan highlighted the key role of the Islamic Republic in the region and urged respect for Iran's stance on regional issues.

Banking relations between the two countries as well as issues related to transportation, the export of Iranian products and the environment of the Aras River were among other topics discussed during the meeting.

Zarif is in Armenia on the third leg of his five-nation tour, which has already taken him to Azerbaijan and Russia, with Georgia and Turkey as his next destinations.

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