ASTANA – Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Monday told visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that he considered the Islamic republic a “political and economic ally.”
“I had trust-based working relationships with all Iranian leaders. Current Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and I met four times last year. Our countries have vast potential for cooperation,” Nazarbayev said, according to Kazakhstan’s Akorda presidential residence.
“A lot is being done within the framework of the project to revive the great Silk Road,” the president said, referring to the completion of the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway.
The visit of Iran’s top diplomat to Astana comes just a few days after Iran and six world powers meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, reached a preliminary agreement on Tehran’s nuclear policy.
Nazarbayev congratulated Zarif for the Lausanne agreement.
“Kazakhstan and Iran are countries that share positions in regional and international affairs,” the Kazakh president said.
Nazarbayev plans to visit Iran this year to boost economic and trade relations between the countries, Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov announced earlier Monday after meeting with Zarif.
“Since the visit last September of President Hassan Rouhani to Kazakhstan, the level of commercial and economic cooperation between Iran and Kazakhstan has increased dramatically,” Zarif said.
Rouhani paid an official visit to Kazakhstan on Sept. 9 to meet with Nazarbayev. The two leaders discussed avenues to development and ways to strengthen Kazakh-Iranian cooperation. They also oversaw the signing of a number of agreements.
“We hope that Nursultan Nazarbayev’s return visit to Iran will help strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries,” Zarif said.
Monday’s meeting between the foreign ministers focused mainly on economic issues and trade cooperation, Idrissov said.
The head of the Iranian Foreign Ministry noted that many Kazakh companies, as well as ones from Russia – Kazakhstan’s partner in the Eurasian Economic Union along with Belarus -, “are interested in entering the Iranian market.”
Further trade cooperation will be possible if the preliminary nuclear agreement negotiated in Switzerland is implemented, opening the door to the suspension of international sanctions against Tehran.
The nuclear accord says Tehran’s uranium enrichment program will be limited and supervised for a period of up to 25 years, and establishes that 95 percent of the uranium already produced must be diluted or sent abroad.
The consensual treaty, which establishes “strict controls” over Iranian nuclear activities by the International Atomic Energy Agency, also calls for the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union on Iran.