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Turkmen president visits Iran for stronger ties with southern neighbor

Yusef Jalali
Press TV, Tehran

Just three months after he became the president of Turkmenistan, Serdar Berdimuhamedow paid his first trip to Iran, with aspirations for closer ties with his country's southern neighbor.

After a warm welcome by Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi, Berdimuhamedow took part in the signing ceremony of multiple cooperation documents that pave the ground for stronger bilateral relations.

Iran was among the first countries that recognized Turkmenistan's independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

During the signing ceremony, President Raeisi said the two neighbors need to build on their already fraternal ties and extend it to economic arenas.

Iran and Turkmenistan use four border crossings, namely Incheh Borun, Sarakhs, Lotfabad and Bajgiran, which connect the two countries through road and railway.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Turkmenistan closed all land and air borders with its neighbors, including Iran. Three of them have been reopened now.

Here, the two sides agreed to lift all transit restrictions between the two countries. Last year, Tehran and Ashgabat traded roughly 300 million dollars worth of commodities. It's almost an 80% increase compared to the previous year. Still, the two sides believe this figure is far from satisfactory.

Last year, President Raeisi paid a visit to Ashgabat to attend the 15th summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization, known as ECO. On the sidelines of the summit, Iran signed a trilateral gas swap contract with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, based on which, Iran agreed to swap 2 billion cubic meters of gas from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan every year.

Sharing long sea and land borders, Iran and Turkmenistan have numerous trade capacities, which have remained untapped. With both sides determined to engage more, the new Turkmen president's trip is seen as the start of a new chapter in Tehran-Ashgabat economic cooperation.

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