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Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan & Iran Discuss Bilateral Relations, South Caucasus

By Nigar Bayramli December 29, 2023

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The Azerbaijani and Iranian foreign ministers discussed the latest developments in the South Caucasus and bilateral relations in a phone conversation on December 26, 2023. / Minval.az

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian discussed the latest developments in the South Caucasus and bilateral relations in a phone conversation on December 26.

The official website of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry reported that the sides exchanged views on the issues of the bilateral and multilateral cooperation agenda between Azerbaijan and Iran, as well as on the current regional situation.

They also deliberated on regional cooperation of mutual interest and the prospects for normalizing relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Amir-Abdollahian welcomed the progress of the peace talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia, emphasizing Iran’s efforts to achieve sustainable peace between Baku and Yerevan, according to Iran’s Mehr news agency.

The Azerbaijani top diplomat, in turn, positively evaluated the negotiation process between Azerbaijan and Armenia, expressing hope for the signing of the final peace agreement between the two countries in the near future.

The ministers further welcomed the initial opening of the Astarachay border bridge in the last days of the year, emphasizing the bridge’s importance in developing trade relations between the two countries.

These discussions come amid intense diplomacy between Iran and Azerbaijan to resolve recent tensions in their relations. The sides have been working to mend relations, which were strained in recent years.

Diplomatic activities at the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran were completely suspended after an Iranian national carried out an armed attack on the Azerbaijan embassy in Tehran this January, killing an Azerbaijani security officer and injuring two others.

After several months, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry received appeals from Iran to restore the work of the Azerbaijani diplomatic mission in Tehran. In an online meeting on December 26, Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan Kamran Aliyev and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Kazem Movahedi-Azad discussed the trial of the accused in the armed attack on the Azerbaijani embassy, the acceleration of the verdict, and mechanisms of legal cooperation.

According to Ali Al-Qasi Mehr, the Head of the General Department of Justice of Tehran Province, the court hearing on the criminal case related to the attack on the embassy will be held in the near future.

Addressing the outcome of the meeting between the prosecutorial offices of Iran and Azerbaijan, the spokesman of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Kanani, noted that a road map for the resumption of the Azerbaijani Embassy’s activity in Iran has been prepared, and positive developments have been witnessed in various areas of relations between the two states.

“This meeting is a part of the efforts made by the two states in the process of relations between the two countries, and in the direction of the solution of the remaining issues regarding the Azerbaijani embassy in Iran. The process has been positive so far and many aspects of this case have been resolved. A road map for the re-opening of the Azerbaijani embassy has been prepared and efforts have been continued successfully. We witnessed good developments in other areas of relations between the two states. Good negotiations in the field of trade were also held,” he noted.

In a phone conversation on December 22, Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mehrdad Bazrpash and First Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan Shahin Mustafayev agreed on the opening of a new transit passage between the two countries at the Astara Border in the near future.

Azerbaijan and Iran have agreed to establish new transport and electricity supply links connecting mainland Azerbaijan to its exclave of Nakhchivan via Iran. In October, the construction operation of the Aghband road bridge over the Araz River kicked off as a new transport link between the East Zangazur economic region of Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan through Iran’s territory.

According to a contract between Iran and Russia for the construction operation of the Rasht-Astara Railway, the 162-km railway will be constructed through a financing scheme by the Russian side, with a contract amount of €1.6 billion. The project is carried out within the framework of the International North-South Transport Corridor.

It is noteworthy that in 2023, rail transit between Iran and Azerbaijan recorded a 47 percent growth with the transit of more than 700,000 tons of freight.