Iranian Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf arrives in the Syrian capital for an official visit at the head of a ranking parliamentary delegation for high-level talks on various topics, including post-crisis economic cooperation between the two countries.
The delegation’s plane touched down in Damascus on Tuesday, and the Arab country’s guests were welcomed by Speaker of the People’s Assembly of Syria Hamoudah Sabbaq.
Before boarding the plane, Qalibaf said the visit took place at Damascus’ formal invitation and was to feature talks with the country’s senior officials.
Economic cooperation in focus
He said discussions on expansion of the bilateral economic cooperation was a main focus of his trip.
“Syria is the closest area to Iran that can provide access to the European markets and the Mediterranean, creating a lot of opportunities that favor industrial, agricultural, and tourism capacities as well as favoring cooperation in the area of oil,” the parliament speaker said.
“I hope that the visit serves as a good starting point for [further development of] the economic, political, and cultural relations,” Qalibaf said, adding that his trip was also to include meetings with Iranian and Syrian businessmen.
He also hailed the Arab country for successfully weathering the security threats that it faced from terror groups such as Daesh. “This country is now on the road to economic development,” the official added.
Comprehensive cooperation agreement in the works
Upon arriving in the Syrian capital, Qalibaf attended a joint press conference with Sabbaq, announcing that a comprehensive joint cooperation agreement was being devised by the countries and would be approved by their respective legislative bodies in due course.
The Iranian official again turned to the issue of Syria’s victory against terrorism, underlining how “this insecurity and the war of terror was waged with the Americans’ support.”
He, however, again underlined that the Arab country had put the dire situation behind and was now going through its era of reconstruction and economic advancement.
‘Syria resistance’s frontline’
“The resistance front considers Syria to be its frontline, and is naturally delightful about the Syrian people’s victory, which has, in turn, outraged the enemies,” Qalibaf said.
He congratulated the Arab nation on holding a successful election that ushered in another seven-year term for President Bashar al-Assad.
The senior legislator honored the memory of those who had put their lives on the line in the service of the fight against terrorism, including Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.
General Soleimani, former commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), used to lead Iran’s military advisory support for the Syrian and Iraqi armies in the fight against Daesh.
The assistance helped Iraq and Syria defeat the terrorists in late 2017. Washington, however, assassinated the commander, along with his compatriots, in a drone strike in Baghdad a year later, in a move that triggered huge regional and international outrage and condemnation.
“He (General Soleimani) put in many efforts towards confronting terrorists, and his memory has to be held dear all the time,” Qalibaf said.
Sabbaq, for his part, hailed the strong, deep-running ties between the neighbors, hoping that Qalibaf’s visit would contribute to the relations’ further enhancement.
He said the countries “have been standing by each other’s side” whether in peace or war.
“The victory [over terrorists] has come about thanks to the two peoples’ resistance, and their sheer faith in their entitlement to the right to self-determination without foreign interference,” he said.
He also put the victory down to “the sagacious leadership exercised by the countries’ leaders.”