By Vafa Ismayilova
Iran has shown great interest in cooperation with Azerbaijan to rebuild territories liberated from Armenia's 30-year occupation in the recent war.
Close cooperation in this sphere was discussed at a meeting between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Baku on January 25.
President Ilham Aliyev welcomed Iran’s involvement in the restoration of Azerbaijan’s liberated lands.
"We will be very happy to see companies from Iran among the companies who will participate in the reconstruction of the liberated areas. That will be natural. Because as I said, only friendly countries will be our partners. And of course, Iranian companies have an advantage because of the close proximity, logistics and great experience," Aliyev told Zarif.
In turn, Zarif expressed Iranian companies' readiness to get involved in the restoration activities.
"These are areas where would be our priority and our companies are ready to engage... We look forward to engaging in those areas from the South-North Corridor to the South-West Corridor, to other power production, energy, Khudafarin, Qiz Qalasi, other probably good areas of cooperation. And we are very happy that during the visit by your officials to Iran these projects moved very rapidly and now we can have a common border a much longer common border of friendship," Zarif said.
During the meeting, President Aliyev expressed his satisfaction with the level of Azerbaijani-Iranian cooperation. He stressed that numerous meetings held at the level of presidents and on the level of high-ranking officials had been very productive.
"We see very good results in the political area, where two brotherly countries became much closer during the last several years, in the economic area, in the area of transportation, energy and all the projects which today we are focusing on like the North-South Transportation Corridor and projects related to energy infrastructure are moving forward successfully. The North-South Transportation Corridor is working. I have just got information that last year we had growth in cargo transportation of almost 20 percent, which is very positive," Aliyev said.
The head of state stressed that the new regional situation opened up new opportunities for private investors and government agencies.
"The new transportation connections are now in the phase of discussion. And of course, our cooperation on the Khudafarin water reservoir and future plans with respect to the construction of a power station are already in a very active phase. So, hopefully, in a coming couple of years we will be able to complete this project fully and to supply new power generation to both sides," the head of state said.
Aliyev also stressed the successful movement of work related to the Ordubad-Maraza power station and mentioned about a new bridge across the Araz River, the groundbreaking ceremony of which will be held soon.
"So, we have a lot of things to discuss and first I want to just express my high appreciation of our bilateral relations, their level, speed of development and achievements, and new plans," the president said.
Zarif expressed his hope that that the liberation of Azerbaijan’s territories will be the beginning of peaceful, normal relations between the regional countries.
"I am taking up your suggestion of 3+3 and I will be visiting all the six countries [Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia, Georgia and Armenia], five-plus Iran. And I want to make sure that the vision for peace that you presented will be discussed and will come to fruition because it is in the interest of all of us in the region that the countries in the region could cooperate with each other," the minister said.
Zarif stressed that Iran could help Azerbaijanis go back to their ancestral lands.
"Now that we have normal situation following territorial integrity restored and the occupation ended, Azerbaijani people can go back to the places of origin and Iran wants to help in doing that. In addition to being your friends, we are the closest and have the highest comparative advantage. In rebuilding the areas where you need your population to come back and rehabilitate those areas, they are our families, they are our kin," the Iranian foreign minister said.
He noted relations of friendship and kinship on both sides of Araz and said that Iran could help people who will go back in the areas of energy, reconstruction and agriculture.
Earlier, the Iranian embassy said that the Iran-Azerbaijan-Russia trilateral cooperation within the North-South Corridor will be researched during Zarif's visit to Azerbaijan.
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