EghtesadOnline: The Iranian government is determined to work toward improving peace and stability in the Middle East to build a strong and prosperous region, the government spokesman said.
"A major and unchangeable policy of the government is expanding relations with neighbors … and the trip of president [Hassan Rouhani] to Armenia to attend the Eurasian Economic Union summit last week … was along this line," Ali Rabiei also said during a Monday press briefing, Dolat.ir reported.
He said the recent trip will play a key role in preventing future regional disputes.
During Rouhani's visit, an agreement was finalized for preferential trade with the five Eurasian countries, which is due to become operational by late October, according to Financial Tribune.
"As of Oct. 27, tariffs for 502 industrial and agricultural goods will be fixed or reduced, which can have a noticeable impact on the volume of Iran's trade with EEU member states," Rabiei said.
“Iran has also improved its cooperation with Russia and Azerbaijan, as evidenced by the agreement to create an Azerbaijan-Russia-Iran energy corridor.”
The ultimate goal of the government, however, is to expand such relations with all regional countries, especially Persian Gulf states.
The spokesman said, "We don't want to exclude any country in our neighborhood from the circle of strong economic, cultural and political bonds.”
According to Rabiei, the government has drawn on all capacities to improve its ties with Persian Gulf countries, especially through diplomatic measures such as Rouhani's Hormuz Peace Endeavor (dubbed Coalition of Hope).
The plan aims to bring all Persian Gulf states and the United Nations together to work for improving peace in the region.
Iran proposed the initiative at a time of heightened tensions, especially after several incidents with oil tankers in the Persian Gulf in May and June and a recent attack on Saudi oil facilities.
Tehran's relations with certain regional Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, have deteriorated over the past few years, but both countries have shown willingness to resolve their differences diplomatically.
"Friendly relations with neighbors and deepening it to an unbreakable level are the most effective way to withstand bullying, unilateralism and the interference of uninvited powers to our region," Rabiei said.
The spokesman expressed concern about the recent unrest in Iraq, which could disrupt efforts to establish stability in the volatile region.
Rabiei called on the Iraqi people to show restraint and seek democratic and legal solutions to address their demands.
Iraq has seen a weeklong series of protests against mismanagement and corruption in Iraq, with some demonstrations descending into violence and bloody clashes.