Iran looks to better Southeast Asia ties | Ettelaat International Newspaper

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Iran looks to better Southeast Asia ties

Leader’s advisor:
TEHRAN – A senior Iranian official has stressed the need for the Islamic Republic to pursue stronger relations with Southeast Asian countries, highlighting the mutual benefits of such relations.
Ali Akbar Velayati, who is an adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, made the remarks in an exclusive interview with IRNA on Thursday following a two-leg visit at the head of a delegation to Singapore and Malaysia.
“It has been some years that Southeast Asia has been experiencing constant progress, which continues and is expected to continue in the future,” he said.
“The entire world, including Western nations, seeks to secure itself a foothold in East and Southeast Asia. The Islamic Republic cannot stay behind, especially [given the fact] that attention to the East is among the Leader’s strategic policies,” the official said.
The World Bank has named South Asia as the fastest growing region in the world.
Velayati said countries in Southeast Asia are heedful of the fact that Iran is the “center of security” in the Middle East region and attach significance to the assistance the Islamic Republic has been providing toward the restoration of security in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, as well as its recent support of the legal government in Turkey.
“All these countries are cognizant that the stability that exists in Iran is crucial not only to Iran but also to the security of the region, and are thus… developing interest in closer ties with Iran,” he said.
As a case in point, he referred to an invitation extended to Iran to the third South Asian Diaspora Convention (SADC) in Singapore, which the Iranian delegation he headed partook in.
Velayati said Iran can be considered “the gateway to West Asia” and added, “Iran is the country that can serve as the transit route between East and Southeast Asian countries and Central Asia and Russia.”
He hailed the trilateral deal signed in May among Iran, India, and Afghanistan, known as the Chabahar agreement, to establish a strategic transit and transport route connecting the three countries.

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