Iran, Russia To Link Persian Gulf To Europe

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Tehran—Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia Wednesday moved ahead on North-South international transport corridor announcing their plan of linking Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas to Helsinki in Finland.

“Transit between the three countries and also between Asia and Europe is the first decision that has been made by us,”  President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday in a joint Press Conference with presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan in Tehran.

The trilateral agreement between Railways of Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan to further development of the North-South international transport corridor was signed as part of the international business forum “1520 Strategic Partnership” held in Sochi, on June 1-3.

Referring to the decisions made at the Baku-Tehran summits, including in the area of transit between the three countries and the Eurasian region, Rouhani said: “within the framework of this transit route, we will connect north to south, and our plan is to connect Bandar Abbas to Helsinki, connecting Asia to Europe and our route is through Azerbaijan, Russia and Eastern and Northern Europe.”

“Friendship, geographical neighborliness and cultural relations between three countries made us determined to take advantage of the capacity of trilateral relations,” he said.

The North-South corridor, from India to Helsinki, with a length of 7,200 kilometers is designed to carry more than 20 million tons per year. It is a multimodal route for transportation of passengers and cargo from Russia’s St. Petersburg to the Mumbai port.

The North-South route enjoys several advantages compared to other transport corridors. It is more profitable for each parameter than other alternative routes, such as the Suez Canal-the Mediterranean Sea-Northern Europe and the Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan-Russia-Northern Europe routes.

Economists believe that the North-South project is of strategic importance for the region. It can be profitable for all countries, including Russia, which can get an access to the waters of the Persian and Oman Gulfs via this corridor.

They say that cargoes, which come from China, can be directed to the Northern Europe, and the goods from the Western Europe to Iran. So, it actually combines the North-South and East-West corridors.

In this case, Azerbaijan, with its favorable strategic and geographic location on the intersection of major transport projects linking north with south and east with west, will become a hub, a logistics center of transit cargo transportation.

Improving banking ties and paving the grounds for three countries to use their national currencies in bilateral and trilateral trade exchanges were among other topics discussed by three parties, Iranian President added.

He pointed to oil and gas and Iran’s top situation in the world, adding, ‘We can develop cooperation in producing and exploring oil and in investing on energy field.’

Iran is also after finalizing the Caspian Sea legal regime to take advantage of Caspian Sea potentials, Iranian President reiterated.

Rouhani also appreciated Putin for accepting to host the next round of trilateral meeting in Moscow.

“In addition to economic issues, we discussed regional issues such as safeguarding the region, fighting terrorism and drugs trafficking and also Iran-Russia cooperation in maintaining stability and security in Syria,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also expressed satisfaction with the talks between Iranian, Russian and Azerbaijani presidents, and said “I am confident that these cordial and transparent meetings will bring about important results and benefits for our nations.”

Referring to the talks with President Rouhani on regional security, he also said that they discussed issues related to Iran nuclear deal and the Syrian crisis; “our cooperation with Iran, especially in the Syrian issue, is very productive, and the fight against terrorism in Syria is progressing well through our cooperation with Iran and Turkey within the framework of Astana peace talks.”

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