Russia, Iran sign economic cooperation deals

M0oscow: Russia and Iran signed on Tuesday a string of cooperation agreements in various fields including the energy sector as President Vladimir Putin hosted his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani for his official visit to Moscow.

The two leaders discussed during the meeting prospects for expanding bilateral trade, economic and investment ties and agreed to deepen Russian-Iranian cooperation in various areas, primarily the economy, Xinhua reported.

"We noted with satisfaction that trade between Russia and Iran grew by more than 70 percent in 2016. This is a truly good result, since we managed to achieve it amid an unstable global economy and persisting volatility on the commodity and currency markets," Putin said.

According to a joint statement published by the Kremlin, with a consensus of accelerating the implementation of the Roadmap for Cooperation in Trade and Industry, both sides expressed their support for facilitating bilateral product deliveries and developing interbank ties, as well as welcomed an early completion of the preparation work for signing an interim agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union and Iran with regard to the formation of a free trade zone.

The two countries are set to expand cooperation in multiple energy sectors and continue coordinated efforts to stabilize international markets, with "particular attention" being paid to bilateral projects in the nuclear power industry, the statement said. 

Russia's Rosatom state nuclear corporation and the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) signed a memorandum of understanding on transport of nuclear materials following the meeting between the two leaders.

Other agreements signed on the day include documents on cooperation in railway transport, oil and gas, information technologies and communications, construction, sport, tourism and the legal sphere.

"We are at a new stage in our economic relations, and our overall links have graduated from ordinary to major long-term projects," said Rouhani, "we are making the right decisions serving the long-term strategy of our relations."

In addition to enhancing bilateral cooperation, Putin and Rouhani also toughed upon important current issues on the global and regional agenda, underling the importance of fighting international terrorism. The two leaders pledged to further strengthen cooperation in pushing forward a peaceful political settlement in Syria and the national reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Rouhani's two-day trip to Moscow, which started on Monday, was considered as one of his important and historical official visits to Russia, as bilateral ties in various fields have been flourishing over the past years. The Middle East conflicts, particularly the Syrian issue, have recently brought the tow neighbours closer for cooperation, experts say.