Iran, Belarus Move to Expand Ties

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran and Belarus agreed to establish a joint economic commission in a bid to further expand relations.

The decision was made during a Thursday meeting in Minsk between Belarusian Prime Minister Sergey Sidorskiy and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who arrived in the Belarusian capital the same day at the head of a politico-economic delegation.

“Iran-Belarus relations have always been progressing, based on mutual respect and common interests,” Mottaki said, adding that the two states’ political bodies were determined to “expand and deepen relations.”

Commenting on the launch of Samand sedan assembly line in Belarus, Mottaki said, “Quality of Samand is comparable with foreign-made cars of the same price and can be referred to as a role model to introduce the promoted economic ties of the two nations.”

In a separate meeting on Friday, Mottaki and Alexi Vagnaf, managing director of Belarus’ largest auto and parts-making complex, Unison, signed a $36 million contract to launch the second phase of the Samand sedan production line with up to annual 60,000 production capacity, the Islamic republic news agency reported.

Iran Khodro Company (IKCO) – the largest carmaker in the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa – inaugurated the first phase of Samand in Belarus in July 2007.

Turning to cooperation in oil projects, Mottaki expressed satisfaction over Tehran-Minsk cooperation in this field and said the Jofeir Oilfield project “has reached a good stage” and the two sides have reached good legal and technical results.

Iran-Belarus agreed on Dec. 24, 2006 to develop an Iranian oilfield in southern Iran.

Located in Iran-Iraq border, Jofeir oilfield was expected to produce 30,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil based on initial estimations.

The Iranian minister noted, “Holding such meetings can help take decisive steps to streamline joint projects implementation.”

Sidorskiy said, “Regular economic and political meetings would bring up new capacities to cooperate on.”

He also urged to organize proper mechanisms to help joint economic and industrial projects develop vis-à-vis global new economic changes.

Belarus is prepared to have monthly meetings with Iranian tradespersons and companies to reorganize their activities, the prime minister announced.

On the global economic crisis, Sidorskiy said the crisis is the result of the US unilateralism policy, adding that Iran and Belarus can make the most of the current situation towards further and closer cooperation.

The ministers of energy, industries and foreign affairs, the Minsk mayor, the deputy agriculture minister and some other high-ranking Belarusian officials were present in the meeting.

According to Belta News Agency, from January to October 2008, Belarus-Iran trade totaled $83.9 million.

Exports to Iran made up $76.1 million, and imports, $7.8 million.

Belarus mainly exports potash fertilizers, synthetic fiber, trucks, and tractors to Iran and imports fruit and cars.

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