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Sustainable peace, security in Caucasus serves regional states' interests: Iran FM

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (R) and his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan attend a joint press conference in Tehran on July 24, 2023. (Photo by Fars news agency)

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has reaffirmed Tehran's call for comprehensive and sustainable peace in the Caucasus region and warned against foreign exploitation of the situation there.

Addressing a joint press conference with Armenia's Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan in Tehran on Monday, Amir-Abdollahian said Iran focuses on the establishment of peace in the Caucasus region and welcomes progress in peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

"We believe that enhanced peace and security among the neighbors can serve the common interests of regional countries," Amir-Abdollahian added.

Tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan remain relatively high nearly two years after the arch-foes fought a war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. The six-week conflict, which claimed more than 6,500 lives on both sides, ended in November 2020 with a Russian-brokered deal.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has been populated by ethnic Armenians. Russia has deployed 1,960 peacekeepers to the region for an initial five-year period. Since the truce, the two sides have accused each other of breaching the peace deal.

Back in July, Mirzoyan and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Jeyhun Bayramov, held their first talks in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi since the deadly 2020 war.

Amir-Abdollahian further said the Caucasus region should not turn into a conflict zone and a battlefield among powers because it would postpone the establishment of regional peace.

The top Iranian diplomat acknowledged that the world order based on war has come to an end, and peace has been established in the Caucasus region.

"This sustainable peace requires the language of friendship and good neighborliness among governments and nations," he added.

He said Iran attaches great importance to the South Caucasus and welcomes convergence among the countries in the region.

The Iranian foreign minister added that any negotiations should be conducted in a balanced atmosphere, have tangible results and serve the interests of both sides.

He warned of certain foreign sides' plots to exploit some conflicts in the Caucasus and said Iran backs the 3+3 format cooperation mechanism and is ready to host it in the presence of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The 3+3 format cooperation mechanism features the three South Caucasus countries of Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan plus Russia, Turkey, and Iran.

Elsewhere in the presser, Amir-Abdollahian hailed the development of Iran-Armenia relations over the past year but said there is still more room for the expansion of ties, including in transportation, energy, agriculture and industry.

The top Iranian diplomat added that the two sides aim to increase their trade volume to one billion dollars initially and three billion dollars in the next step and have so far taken good strides in this regard.

The Armenian foreign minister, for his part, hailed his country's historical and cordial ties with Iran and described Tehran as a unique friend of Yerevan which plays an active role in solving the existing challenges between the two sides.

Mirzoyan said Armenia would host a trilateral meeting in the presence of Iran and India in 2023.

He noted that the promotion of stability in the South Caucasus region was among the issues discussed during his talks with the Iranian foreign minister.

This is Mirzoyan's second visit to Iran as he traveled to Tehran in October 2021 and attended a joint press conference with the Iranian foreign minister.

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