By: Kayhan Int’l Staff Writer
Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the Head of a yet another Central Asian republic to visit Iran over the past 20 days, on Sunday oversaw with his host, President Hojjat al-Islam Seyyed Ibrahim Raisi, the signing of at least nine agreements in various fields between the two large Muslim countries, which trace their roots to the once dominant Persianate culture.
Today also the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Kazakhstan continue to share many commonalities, including membership in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and of course, the United Nations Organization (UNO).
Although their land borders do not meet, Iran shares marine borders in the world’s largest inland sea, the Caspian, with the world’s largest landlocked country, Kazakhstan.
This indicates the two sides’ desire to further develop trade ties in view of Iran’s strategic geo-political location as a land bridge connecting the Asian hinterland with the outside world, thereby providing Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries the safest and most economical connection to the high seas for export of their products as well as imports of the required goods.
Thus, in addition to the Iran-Kazakh bilateral exchanges, what assumes importance for uninterrupted trade and immunity from US economic terrorism for both the countries, is the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which was operationalized on June 15 by Iran and Russia via the Caspian Sea for transport of cargo from St. Petersburg to Mumbai, India – bypassing the circuitous Mediterranean Sea-Suez Canal sea route.
It is a multi-modal connectivity project that is designed to build a 7,200-km-long network of ship, rail, and road routes to move freight between Europe, Russia, Iran, India and Central Asia that greatly reduces the cost and time it takes to transport commodities from Europe to South and Southeast Asia via, Russia, Central Asia, and Iran.
This is where the visit to Tehran of President Tokayev and his high ranking delegation gains more significance. Kazakhstan has called on Iran to take necessary measures for the expansion of cooperation between the ports of the two countries on the Caspian Sea, stating that this landlocked Central Asian country is able to send six million tons of goods to Iran through railway, for export to other countries.
Kazakhstan is a major oil and uranium producer, and last year, during a meeting between Raisi and Tokayev on the sidelines of a SCO summit in Tajikistan, the two sides had agreed to strengthen bilateral relations, including cooperation to better facilitate rail freight transport to speed up the transit of goods.
The Kazakh president’s visit comes on the heels of various official trips to Iran by the world’s high-profile leaders, including President Imom Ali Rahman of Tajikistan, and President Serdar Berdi-Muhammadov of Turkmenistan, for expansion of ties with Tehran in the face of Western unilateralism and the illegal sanctions policy.
In this regard, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, who granted audience to President Takayev, cautioned him on the machinations of the West against independent countries, saying that closer cooperation amongst the free world will definitely defeat Washington’s devilish plots.
Iran has made spectacular progress in various fields, including agricultural machinery, chemical fertilizers, medicine, and industrial products. It also has 120 years of experience in oil extraction and enjoys excellent knowhow in various fields of technology.
The Kazakh delegation has expressed readiness for cooperation in the sectors of mining, as well as the oil, gas and petrochemical industries. It also welcomed joint work with Iran on various sectors, including home appliances, medical equipment and medicine.
To sum up, trade ties between the two countries are expected to increase manifold in the next few years to the tune of a least three billion dollars.