President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that Tehran and Baku are strongly determined for all-out expansion of relations.

President Rouhani made the remarks n a joint press conference with his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev after signing of six protocols for mutual cooperation by senior Iranian and Azeri officials on Sunday.

President Rouhani said over the past three years, bilateral relations have expanded speedily and very good steps have been taken for all-out expansion of ties.

He said visits of Iranian and Azeri presidents to each other's country and the meetings they held on the sidelines of international conferences serve as a forward-looking step of relations between the two nations that share common history, culture and religion and have led long years of peaceful co-existence.

'Today and in the meeting of senior Iranian and Azeri delegations, there were talks on expansion of trade and cutting customs tariffs; the joint commissions of the two countries try to prepare the ground for achieving final goal, which is free trade,' President Rouhani said.

He said expansion of banking relations by Iran and Azerbaijan is of high significance and serves as a basis for promotion of economic ties and cooperation between the two countries.

He added that to that end, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by governors of the two countries' central banks and it can enhance trade ties.

He added that in investment, industry and technology an important step was taken for initiation of project to manufacture auto in Azerbaijan.

The President said the project will result in production and manufacturing of 10,000 cars per year for domestic need of Azerbaijan or the neighboring countries. 'This is a good step towards expansion of bilateral relations in industrial domain.'

Furthermore, he went on to say that in pharmaceuticals, some steps have been taken which will hopefully serve as a prelude to the broadening of bilateral industrial and technological relations.

The President said consultation and exchange of views on the subjects related to the Caspian Sea was among other axes of talks with the Azeri officials and said Caspian Sea is the sea of friendship and expansion of relations among the Caspian Sea littoral states.

'As for the Caspian Sea legal regime the two countries agreed to be active in the field with more speed to reach final agreement in the future. As for joint oil and gas activities, the two sides will launch activities in joint zones and this will be an important step to upgrade level of bilateral relations.'

The president said environment of the Caspian Sea is of special importance for both Iran and Azerbaijan because pollution of the land-locked sea can be highly dangerous, so the already reached agreements and the contracts signed by the Caspian littoral states should be implemented and a secretariat to that effect will be form and become active in Azerbaijan.

Rouhani said Iranian and Azeri officials will strive for development of tourism and investment to expand airlines.

They should provide necessary conditions to facilitate visa issuance so that Iranian and Azeri people will be able to visit their historical, cultural and natural attractions so easily, he added.

As for transit and the north-south corridor, he said it is among fundamental issues of concern by Iran and Azerbaijan and the regional states.

'The first segment of the corridor will be set up following inauguration and connection of the Astara-Astara railway and a terminal that will be established in Iran. Next, the Astara-Rasht railway will be connected because the two countries can through mutual contribution launch investment.'

Once the railyway is built, Azerbaijan will be connected to the Persian Gulf and finally, the railway will link the Caucasus states, Russia, and the northern and east European states to the Persian Gulf and the southern Persian Gulf states to the north, said President Rouhani, adding that consequently, it will bring about developed and good economic relations for the entire region.

He also referred to talks by Iranian and Azeri officials on Karabakh, and said Azeri president had provided him with a report on the efforts made in the past months in that connection.

President Rouhani said the Islamic Republic of Iran believes peace and stability should be restored in the region and problems and differences of regional states should eventually be settled through dialogue and negotiation.

Underlining territorial integrity of countries, including Azerbaijan, and no change in borders in the region, he said regional issues should be solved through dialogue and countries' efforts should be concentrated on promotion of peace, stability and security of the region.

As neighbor of both Azerbaijan and Armenia, the Islamic Republic of Iran has always been trying to pave the path for dialogue and settlement of issues and in this path, it will spare no efforts, announced Rouhani.

As for terrorism and the danger violence and terror can post to the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East and entire world, he said, Iran and Azerbaijan are to cooperate in fighting terrorism and they will cooperate in cultural domain and propagate anti-violence, passionate and moderate Islam, which is favored by both Tehran and Baku.

He hoped that Iran and Azeri ulemma and elite will try for expansion of Islam in the region. 'We hope efforts of the two countries in cultural, academic and technological domains will expand and decisions have of course been made in that connection.'

Rouhani concluded, 'I hope Iran-Azerbaijan-Russia tripartite session will be the first tripartite session to be a very good step towards trilateral relations and ties in the entire region and we will be able to reach good agreements in the meeting on transit and in line with mutual cooperation in humanitarian issues, campaign against terrorism and drugs and expansion of economic relations.'

Aliyev, for his part, said that Azerbaijan has always been opposing unjust sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, being happing with removal of sanctions which has prepared the ground for promotion of the two-way cooperation.

He said expansion of trade despite ample economic crises worldwide indicates close ties between the government and nation.

Referring to trilateral session of Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia, he said the sides took very important steps towards north-south transportation corridor.

He said the tripartite session of Iranian, Azeri and Russian presidents was a new and important initiative, rooted and based on history and geography of the three countries.

Referring to the establishment of auto and pharmaceutical plants in Azerbaijan by Iran, he said as far as tourism is concerned, exchange of visits by Iranian and Azeri people through air and rail links should be facilitated.

News Code 188057