Iranian delegation on an unofficial visit to Astrakhan

On October, 20 – 21, a delegation led by the Chief of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Mohammad Bagheri, came to Astrakhan on an official visit. He was accompanied by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Iran to Russia Kazem Jalali, and a number of high-ranking officials of military departments.

The visit aimed at getting acquainted with the infrastructure facilities of the region, as well as the prospects for developing the "North-South" international transport corridor.

On behalf of the head of the region Igor Babushkin, the members of the Iranian delegation were extended a warm welcome by the head of the Governor's Administration Pavel Pautov, Minister of Economic Development of Astrakhan Region Mansur Gadzhiev, Head of the regional Foreign Relations Agency Vladimir Golovkov.

"The day before in Moscow and St. Petersburg we held talks with the leadership of the Russian Ministry of Defense on the development of military cooperation, and today in Astrakhan I set myself a task of getting to know the infrastructure facilities that are quite relevant for Iran," Mohammad Bagheri said.

The Chief of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces considers Astrakhan Region to be a sea gate to Russia and the adjacent European countries.

"The new leadership of our country attaches great importance to the development of relations with the SCO and the Eurasian Economic Union. The North-South transport corridor is also important for Iran. And in this context, Astrakhan is a very relevant region for us," the head of the Iranian delegation said. "After I’m back to Tehran, I will inform all the government institutions of the country about the great potential of Astrakhan."

When asked about visiting Astrakhan for the third time in a row over the past year, Iran’s Ambassador to Russia Kazem Jalali replied: "Your region is a key point for Iran's rapprochement with Russia," – And the fact that we have a lot of joint work ahead of us speaks about the importance of Astrakhan in the development of Iranian-Russian relations".

The first point on the programme of the visit was JSC "Astrakhan Port", a controlling stake in which belongs to an Iranian company.

The port is the most important transshipment point on the North-South route. It exports metal and products made from it, lumber, grain, oil and other goods. Cement, vegetables and fruits are transshipped from the countries of the Indian Ocean basin to Europe.

Mohammad Bagheri assessed the capacity and potential of the port for cargo turnover between Iran and Russia. The head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Iran was also told about the prospects for the development of the port and the active participation of Iranian companies in the development of the North-South corridor.

"The Astrakhan port is important for the development of the international transport corridor," he believes. "As a result of the visit, I will report to the country's leadership that it is necessary to increase investments in the development of this facility, invest them in updating equipment."

In turn, Pavel Pautov expressed satisfaction with the dynamic development of the enterprise, which, with the new leadership in place, plays a significant role in the economy of Astrakhan region.

"The role of the port in creating a large cargo logistics center within the framework of the port special economic zone is important," said the head of the Governor's administration. "And we welcome the further development of this project, we are optimistic about the future."

The next point of the visit was the Admiral Apraksin Caspian Institute of Sea and River Transport, where the delegation was shown the Institute’s capabilities and the high status of its graduates in the international market.

Director of the Institute Olga Kartashova, in particular, informed the Iranian guests about the plans to build an international innovative center, which will feature a full set of ship simulators.

"We are looking forward to welcoming cadets from Iran to our institute," the director said. – We are ready to accept both cadet students and active ship crew members for training." The Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Iran promised to assist in establishing contacts between the Institute and the universities in his country.

The Iranian delegation also visited the Astrakhan Shipbuilding Production Association. Together with the management of the shipyard, the guests inspected the progress of the construction of the Project 00216M chemical tanker, designed for the bulk transportation of petroleum products, hazardous liquids and edible oils. Finishing and insulation and electrical installation works are being carried out on it.

"Next week, the chemical tanker will go for sea trials," the shipbuilders told Mohammad Bagheri.

The guests were given a tour of the PortNews tanker, showed the wheelhouse, the cabins of the captain and chief engineer, the galley and the process of setting up radio navigation equipment.