ASTANA – President Nursultan Nazarbayev received visiting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif in the Akorda presidential residence on April 13, emphasising that Kazakhstan sees Iran as a close political and economic partner.
“I have worked with all the Iranian heads of state with mutual trust. Last year, I met four times with President Rouhani. Our countries have great potential for cooperation. A lot of work is being done in the framework of the revival of the Great Silk Road. The railway from Kazakhstan, with access to the Persian Gulf, will greatly contribute to strengthening economic ties. Also, our countries established agreements concerning cooperation on the Caspian Sea, due to which the issue should find its solution,” Nazarbayev said, according to the Akorda press service.
Nazarbayev went on to congratulate Zarif on the outcome of multilateral talks on Iran’s nuclear programme in Lausanne, he said.
Zarif noted that Kazakhstan and Iran are friends with a common history and culture and have close positions on many international and regional issues.
“We have a good basis for further interaction in the framework of the transit of raw materials and minerals, industry and road construction. Iran intends to further deepen cooperation with Kazakhstan in these and other spheres. We are confident that with the support of President Nazarbayev our relations with Kazakhstan will grow stronger,” Zarif said as quoted by the Akorda.
While in Astana, Zarif was also received by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Chairman of the Senate of Kazakhstan, to discuss the potential for expanding ties at the parliamentary level.
Earlier in the day, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov also held talks with Mohammad Zarif.
The sides discussed bilateral relations in the political, trade, economic and investment spheres, as well as their interaction within multilateral institutions and significant regional and international issues, according to the two ministers’ statements at a joint press conference following their talks.
The ministers highlighted the expansion of economic and regional cooperation between their countries and the importance of the visit of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Kazakhstan last September in strengthening their cooperation and friendship.
“We are expecting the visit of President [Nursultan] Nazarbayev to Iran and hope that this visit will contribute to the further development of bilateral relations,” Zarif noted.
The Iranian minister stressed the constructive role of Kazakhstan in the process of multilateral negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme and thanked the leadership of Kazakhstan for providing a platform for two rounds of negotiations in Almaty in 2013.
“I would like to thank Minister Idrissov for his very positive speech in regard to the Iranian nuclear programme talks. Also, I am grateful to Kazakhstan for the role it has played in the P5+1 talks [with Iran], as well as for their hospitality,” he said.
As a state which has made a significant contribution to nuclear non-proliferation, Idrissov noted Kazakhstan’s readiness to continue providing assistance in order to reach a final agreement between Iran and the group of international negotiators on the issue. The Kazakh minister also expressed hope that the political will of the countries participating in the negotiations will help push them to achieve a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme within the agreed timeframe, which is June 30.
The ministers noted that intensified contacts at the highest levels have positively affected trade turnover between the two countries: the volume of trade turnover in 2014 amounted to $1 billion, 1.6 times more than in 2013. In this regard, the parties welcomed the opening of Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway and expressed hope that trade between Kazakhstan and Iran as well as regional trade would grow.
“I would like to note the significance of the opening of Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway. Kazakhstan gainsaccess to the open seas. We have great potential in agriculture and other industries. The Iranian side is interested in various investment projects in Kazakhstan,including in minerals,” Zarif said at the press conference.
“Kazakh companies are ready to open terminals in Iran at railway junctions and in the Persian Gulf.Iranian companies are ready to take part in the development of port infrastructure in Kazakhstan,” Idrissov noted in his turn, adding that various issues, such as streamlining tariffs and determining technical modalities, are still need to be worked out for the railway to operate at its full capacity.
Following the meeting, the two ministers also mentioned that the next meetings of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation and the Business Council comprising the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs of Kazakhstan and the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, which should give an additional impetus to economic cooperation, are planned to be held this year.
According to the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, Idrissov and Zarif reviewed the implementation of agreements reached at the Astrakhan Summit of Caspian States in September 2014, as well as preparations for the Astana Summit of 2016. They noted the importance of further constructive collaboration aimed at developing mutually acceptable principles on which a convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea can be based, the press service said.
“The Caspian Sea is a sea of peace and friendship… it is our common wealth,” Zarif stressed at the press conference.
During the talks, the sides also discussed combating international terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking, as well as Kazakh-Iranian cooperation in international and regional organisations including the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.