Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:52AM
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) shakes hands with his Georgian counterpart, Mikheil Janelidze, in Tbilisi on April 18, 2017.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) shakes hands with his Georgian counterpart, Mikheil Janelidze, in Tbilisi on April 18, 2017.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has held meetings with high-ranking Georgian officials on the second leg of his Central Asia and Caucasus tour.

Zarif sat down for talks with his Georgian counterpart, Mikheil Janelidze, in Tbilisi on Tuesday, stressing the Islamic Republic’s resolve to boost bilateral relations in various areas.

“In today’s meeting, [we] explored different fields of cooperation, including transit, industry and education as well as cooperation in international organizations and regional issues,” he said.

Zarif also touched on a multi-national transit project, called the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which connects the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea.

If it becomes operational, the corridor will bring regional countries closer to each other and reduce the costs of transferring goods, he added.

The INSTC is a 7,200-kilometer multi-mode network of ship, rail, and road route for moving freight between India, Russia, Iran, Europe, and Central Asia.

Zarif also announced that Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili will visit Tehran in the near future.

Janelidze, for his part, expressed his country’s readiness to develop closer relations with Iran, which he said are already at a good level.

He also emphasized the need for making preparations with the neighboring countries of Azerbaijan and Armenia to implement the transit corridor with the participation of China and India.

Georgian companies are also keen to cooperate with Iranians in the fields of technology and agriculture, he pointed out.

Additionally on Tuesday, the top Iranian diplomat held a meeting with Georgian Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, during which the latter called for enhanced bilateral ties, especially in the parliamentary sector.

Accompanied by an economic-industrial mission, Zarif is expected to meet with the Georgian premier and President Giorgi Margvelashvili later on Tuesday.

After Georgia, Zarif will travel to Kyrgyzstan as part of his three-day tour to Central Asia and the Caucasus which has already taken him to Turkmenistan.

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