Sunday, June 23, 2024

Iran, Belarus ink agreement to boost defense cooperation

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani and his Belarusian counterpart Viktor Khrenin have signed a memorandum of understanding to bolster cooperation in the defense sector.

The deal was signed by the defense chiefs of Iran and Belarus following a meeting in Tehran on Monday.

Pointing to the two countries’ common stance on many regional and international issues, Ashtiani said Belarus has a special place in Iran’s foreign policy.

He added that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s talks with senior Iranian officials in Tehran in March and his meeting with Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei indicate the significance of Minsk in Iran’s foreign policy.

During Lukashenko’s state visit to Tehran, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his Belarusian counterpart signed eight agreements on various fields, including trade, transportation, agriculture and mining, under a cooperation roadmap which marked 30 years of diplomatic relations between the two counties.

Ayatollah Khamenei also told the Belarusian president that those countries that have been put under unilateral sanctions by the United States and its Western allies must join hands to destroy those bans.

Referring to defense cooperation between Tehran and Minsk, Ashtiani stated, “Making use of the two countries’ capabilities and capacities and defense synergies will establish peace, stability and security in the region.”

He reaffirmed the determination of the two countries’ top officials to improve the level of bilateral cooperation in various areas as a strategic principle to overcome the West’s sanctions policy against independent states, including Iran and Belarus.

The Iranian defense minister added that the global developments over the recent years indicate that the world is moving towards a new geometry and international order.

In this new world order, he said, independent countries refuse to accept a unipolar system and seek to play a greater role in global management.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian defense chief stressed the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) into eastern Europe regardless of the regional countries’ concerns is the root cause of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran supports any diplomatic effort that leads to the peaceful settlement of the conflicts in Ukraine,” Ashtiani pointed out.

Russia has repeatedly warned US-led NATO forces against the alliance’s expansion. It says that NATO leaders betrayed a promise not to expand the body after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union more than three decades ago, Moscow has seen NATO expand to 15 European countries.

Moscow launched the military campaign in Ukraine in February last year, with NATO’s eastward expansion blamed for it.

Khrenin, for his part, said his current visit to Tehran would provide the two countries with an opportunity to deepen mutual relations and help them achieve common goals.

He added that the defense ministries of Iran and Belarus can use their capacities to strengthen defense and military cooperation and expand ties in issues of common interest.

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