Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the Islamic Republic is ready to help Armenia and Azerbaijan settle their dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region through negotiations.
“Iran, as a neighbor of Azerbaijan and Armenia, has always sought to pave the way for negotiations and the settlement of disputes,” Rouhani said at a joint press conference with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev in Baku on Sunday.
He emphasized that Iran would spare no effort to help Yerevan and Baku resolve their territorial dispute over the Karabakh region.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that peace and stability must be established in the region and disputes and differences between regional countries must be ultimately resolved through negotiations and dialogue,” Rouhani pointed out.
The Iranian chief executive also stressed the importance of safeguarding the territorial integrity of all countries, including Azerbaijan, and preventing any shift in regional borders.
In early April, Azerbaijani and Armenian troops used artillery, tanks, and other armaments against each other on a scale not seen since a separatist war concluded in 1994. A Russian-mediated truce went into effect later that month, but sporadic clashes have since continued.
A soldier of the defense army of Nagorno-Karabakh walks past a tank at a field position outside the village of Mataghis, some 70km north of Karabakh’s capital, Stepanakert, on April 6, 2016. ©AFP
The Karabakh region, which is located in the Republic of Azerbaijan but is populated by Armenians, has been under the control of local ethnic Armenian militia and the Armenian troops after a six-year war, which claimed some 38,000 lives, ended in 1994.
Rouhani also pointed to growing trend of relations between Iran and Azerbaijan over the past three years and said the two countries have managed to take very good steps to improve ties.
He added that the exchange of visits between the Iranian and Azeri presidents and their meetings on the sidelines of international conferences were steps toward expanding relations between the two nations, who share common culture, history and religion and have had peaceful co-existence for many years.
Senior officials of Iran and Azerbaijan signed 11 agreements and memoranda of understanding in Tehran on February 23 to improve and speed up cooperation in different fields.
According to the agreements, signed in the presence of Rouhani and Aliyev, Tehran and Baku are to strengthen cooperation in various sectors including customs, animal husbandry, railway transportation, electricity, health and medical sciences, labor, women and social affairs as well as oil and gas.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (3rd L) and his Azeri counterpart, Ilham Aliyev (3rd R), attend the signing ceremony of six documents and MoUs in Baku on August 7, 2016 by senior Iranian and Azeri officials to strengthen cooperation. © president.ir
Earlier on Sunday, senior Iranian and Azeri officials signed six documents and memoranda of understanding to strengthen cooperation in various sectors. The agreements were inked in the presence of Rouhani and Aliyev.
Elsewhere in the presser, the Iranian president said he had held discussions with his Azeri counterpart about the threat posed by the spread of terrorism and violence in the region.
“We held talks about the issue of terrorism and the threat that violence and terror can pose to the Caucasus region, the Central Asia and the Middle East as well as the entire world,” Rouhani said.
He added that Tehran and Baku agreed to make more efforts in the field of culture and the promotion of Islam as an anti-violence religion of fraternity and moderation.
The Iranian president arrived in Baku on Sunday for a two-day official visit at the head of a high-ranking delegation. He is scheduled to participate in a trilateral summit with Aliyev and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.