Iran’s Raisi says peace, security in Caucasus important for Tehran
Iran's president holds talks with Armenian premier in Tehran
Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi said Tuesday that Tehran is "sensitive" to developments in the Caucasus region, describing peace and security in the region as important for his country.
Raisi made the remarks at a joint press conference with visiting Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Tehran following their two-hour delegation-level talks.
The Iranian president said regional problems should be resolved by regional officials, adding that the interference of foreigners "only makes things worse".
He said the Caucasus region is "a part of Iran's history, civilization and culture" and that peace and security in the region are "very important for Iran".
Pashinyan arrived in Tehran on Tuesday morning from Sochi where he took part in tripartite talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
Raisi said the Armenian leader's visit to Iran will be a "turning point" in the development of bilateral relations between the two sides.
He noted a 43% growth in trade exchange between Iran and Armenia in the past few months, saying the target is to reach $3 billion in bilateral trade.
Pashinyan, for his part, said "comprehensive negotiations" are underway between the officials of the two countries to bolster trade and economic ties.
He said he informed the Iranian president of the outcome of trilateral talks held in Sochi on Monday to de-escalate tensions between the two estranged neighbors.
The visit came a day after Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian held a phone talk with his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov, during which the two officials discussed bilateral and regional issues, according to Iran's Foreign Ministry.
Amir-Abdollahian emphasized the importance of respecting territorial integrity of countries in the region, including Azerbaijan, the statement noted, adding that Iran is opposed to the "presence of aliens" in the region, in a veiled reference to Israel.
He said Iran supports a solution to the long-running conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Karabakh region through regional mechanisms, including the 3+3 format.
Tension flared again recently between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the contested Karabakh region, two years after a deadly standoff left thousands dead.
Although Karabakh was liberated from the Armenian occupation after almost three decades following a 44-day war that saw Azerbaijani forces regaining control over swathes of the territory, Armenia has continued to lay territorial claims on the region and violating a Russia-brokered truce.
Iran shares a 44-km border with Armenia that runs from the tripoint with Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan region in the west to the tripoint with Azerbaijan proper in the east.
Iranian authorities have been concerned over changes in borders with Armenia amid the latest flare-up, with the top Iranian diplomat raising the issue with his Azerbaijani and Armenian counterparts in recent months.
Last month, Amir-Abdollahian said Tehran "lays emphasis" on the need to "preserve the territorial integrity" of all countries, including Azerbaijan and Armenia.
He said the border between Iran and Armenia must be preserved "without any change", calling it a "historic connecting route".
Meanwhile, according to state media, Iran's Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf is expected to visit Baku later this month, where he will hold talks with Azerbaijani officials.