1159 GMT February 22, 2018
Since President Hassan Rouhani assumed office in 2013, the Islamic Republic has substantially promoted ties with many regional and neighboring countries.
Such a promotion is manifested in the expansion of ties between Iran and countries in the Caucasus region, particularly Azerbaijan.
Rouhani has met with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev eight times since he was elected president four years ago.
Aliyev has traveled to Tehran three times in the past three years while Rouhani headed to Baku twice. The two presidents also held direct talks at three different meetings. This shows that Iran attaches significance to the expansion of relations with its neighbors and regional countries.
The Azerbaijani president held talks with Rouhani in Tehran on Sunday. The meeting showed that Tehran and Baku are determined to follow up agreements they have already made.
The two sides have signed tens of deals and MoUs since 2013, many of which have been implemented.
The launch of a railway link between Iran and Azerbaijan is among these accords which has been pilot-tested.
Azerbaijan officially pilot-tested a rail link with Iran on Sunday by sending a train across the border to Iran’s northern city of Astara, thus taking an ambitious multimodal transport project that connects northern Europe to India closer to reality.
The Islamic Republic can now have access to transit routes and railways of Russia, Georgia and Eastern Europe.
Tehran and Baku have also launched many economic projects such as the construction of an Iranian plant in Azerbaijan which manufactures cars.
The two nations are also making efforts to set up a drug manufacturing company based on joint investment.
The two neighbors have further boosted their non-oil trade over the past six months and reached agreements for the construction of power plants on Aras River.
Such developments indicate that Tehran-Baku ties are at their best level over the past 25 years.
However, the two countries have their own differences.
Unfortunately, Israel is seeking to undermine friendly ties between Iran and Azerbaijan. Tel Aviv has been attempting to exaggerate differences between Tehran and Baku while they have no serious problems.
Aliyev’s trip to Iran was also a major step which can lead to holding a summit between Iran, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Such a summit can play a key role in dealing with security problems and fighting against terrorism.
Iran, Azerbaijan and Georgia have many common grounds for boosting cooperation which benefit them. This can stimulate the trio to mull over enhancing ties.
*Mohsen Pak-Aeen is former Iranian ambassador to Azerbaijan