Azerbaijan Launches Iran Rail Link
The Azeri president hailed Iranian firms
for making investments in Azerbaijan, noting that the completion of the
transportation corridor could deliver considerable benefits for the regional nations.
Azerbaijan officially launched a rail link with Iran (March 5) by sending a
train across the border to Iran’s northern city of Astara thus taking an
ambitious multimodal transport project that connects northern Europe to
India closer to reality.
The train arrived in Iran simultaneous with a visit to the Islamic Republic
by Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev where he discussed the implementation
of the North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) with his Iranian counterpart
Aliyev told reporters after meeting Rouhani that the NSTC was an important
project, stressing that it could have positive effects on the economies of
its host countries.
He indicated Baku’s determination to materialize the project when he said
his country would invest in the construction of a railway from Iran’s
northern city of Rasht to Astara.
Aliyev emphasized that a basic agreement that was signed between the main
railway companies of Iran and Azerbaijan during his March 5 meeting with
Rouhani was in the same connection and could help facilitate the expansion
of economic relations between the two countries.
The NSTC is a multi-modal route to link India and the Middle East to the
Caucasus, Central Asia and Europe.
The ship, road and rail routes connect India’s Mumbai to the Iranian port of
Bandar Abbas and further to Baku in Azerbaijan as well as Astrakhan, Moscow
and St Petersburg in Russia before stretching to northern Europe and
In addition to Iran, India and Russia, countries that are on board to
integrate into the transit network include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus,
Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Turkey, Tajikistan, Oman, Syria and
Call for Enhanced Iran-Azeri Trade
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the level of
economic cooperation between Iran and Azerbaijan is low in view of the two
sides’ capacities, calling for a tenfold rise in bilateral trade.
Ayatollah Khamenei made the statement in a meeting with Aliyev in Tehran
The top Azeri official said mutual ties are “at an excellent level” and
hostile efforts to undermine the relationship will get nowhere.
In a joint news conference with his Azeri counterpart earlier in the day,
President Rouhani said the considerable growth in annual trade between
Tehran and its northwestern neighbor shows the two countries are on the
right path of developing wide-ranging cooperation.
Bilateral trade grew by 70% in 2016 to $500 million, following the
implementation of several cooperation agreements signed in recent years.
Hailing “friendly, brotherly and strategic” relations, Rouhani said
bilateral political, economic and cultural cooperation has grown
significantly in the past three years and that the two countries should keep
up efforts on this path.
Rouhani urged the two countries to work to implement their part in
developing the International North-South Transportation Corridor, a route
stretching from the Indian Ocean to Russia, China, Central Asia and East
Voicing Iran’s readiness to swap oil and oil products with Azerbaijan, he
reiterated that the two Muslim countries hold similar views on regional
Aliyev said his government intends to establish “deep and long-lasting”
relations with the Islamic Republic, adding that their friendship is in the
interest of the two nations and the region.
The Azeri president hailed Iranian firms for making investments in
Azerbaijan, noting that the completion of the transportation corridor could
deliver considerable benefits for the regional nations.
Before the presser and after a meeting between high-ranking delegations of
the two countries, the two sides’ officials signed two memorandums of
understanding on fighting money laundering and expanding railroad links.
Aliyev’s visit to Tehran was the third in the past three years. He last
visited Iran in February 2016 when the two sides signed 11 memorandums of
understanding and agreements to promote mutual cooperation in a wide range