ASTANA – President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Hassan Rouhani paid an official visit to Kazakhstan Sept. 9 to meet with President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The parties negotiated avenues to development and strengthen Kazakh-Iranian cooperation and oversaw the signing of a number of agreements.
During the meeting at the Akorda presidential residence, the two leaders focused on cooperation in the spheres of economy, energy, infrastructure development, agriculture and issues of transport and transit cooperation. The heads of state also exchanged views on issues on the international agenda.
The Kazakh head of state noted that relations between his country and Iran have evolved steadily and today cooperation between the two countries has great potential for development. He added that Kazakhstan considers Iran one of its most important partners, both in the world and in the Caspian region.
In turn, the Iranian president stressed that his country attaches great importance to cooperation with Kazakhstan.
“The visit of our high level delegation indicates a serious will of the Islamic Republic of Iran to develop relations with Kazakhstan in all areas,” said Rouhani.
Nazarbayev expressed the opinion that various conflicts in the Middle East cannot be resolved without Iran.
“We are confident that talks between Iran and the P5+1 group on lifting sanctions over [Iran’s] nuclear programme will be very successful. This will expand our cooperation,” he said.
At the press conference following the meeting, Kazakhstan’s President noted the progress in Kazakh-Iranian joint projects aimed at the development of the two countries’ economic and transit-transport potential.
“This year we are completing construction of the Zhanaozen-Bereket-Gorgan railway route, which will connect the countries of Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. With the launch of the new railway route, sales between our countries can grow to $2 billion in the next year alone,” he said.
President Nazarbayev believes that the two countries could expand mutually-beneficial cooperation in metallurgy, agribusiness, transport, logistics and tourism.
Kazakhstan has an ambitious goal of joining the ranks of the world’s 30 most-advanced nations, which will be conducive to successful business cooperation. Nazarbayev emphasised that Kazakhstan currently has new opportunities and enormous potential for both large companies and medium-sized businesses.
According to the global competitiveness report of the World Economic Forum this year, Kazakhstan is ranked 50th among 144 countries. Kazakhstan is also in 50th place in the World Bank annual business ranking, ahead of the country’s partners in the Customs Union and other neighbours.
During the meeting, the two leaders also touched upon the development of interregional cooperation between the western regions of Kazakhstan and the Iranian provinces.
“We believe that the trade turnover between the two countries should increase by five times. As a result of some of the decisions that have been made today, we can achieve these volumes. We also had detailed talks about the Caspian Sea, as well as the importance of launching the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway road,” Rouhani said.
It was announced that Kazakhstan will be implementing a number of investment projects with the participation of Iran. In particular, it will consider projects on the construction of a glass factory in the Kyzylorda region, a hydrometallurgical plant in the Karaganda region and production of aluminum in the Kostanai region.
The Kazakh President also invited Iranian companies to participate in the international specialised exhibition EXPO 2017.
“It is crucial that Iran supports our international initiatives. Kazakhstan wants to take a non-permanet seat in the UN Security Council in 2017-2018 and we really appreciate Iran’s support in this respect. I have invited Iranian companies to participate in the upcoming EXPO2017 in Astana,” Nazarbayev said.
In the end, the Kazakh President expressed confidence that the Iranian President’s visit, as well as the business forum that took place in the framework of the visit, will provide an opportunity to raise the economic cooperation between the two countries to a new level.
A number of agreements were signed between Kazakhstan and Iran as a result of the presidential talks. The sides signed the intergovernmental agreement on international road passenger and goods transportation and adopted the roadmap on the development of commercial, economic and investment cooperation between the two nations. The Kazakh and Iranian foreign ministries also inked a five-year programme of cooperation.