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Rouhani moots regional trade bloc to boost growth, stability


The new Iranian administration’s priority in its foreign policy is to forge closer ties with the Islamic world, particularly with its neighbours. — Supplied picture

Muscat: An economic bloc like Asean or Nafta between Iran and its neighbours would accelerate growth and promote regional development and stability, said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in a meeting with Iranian and Omani businessmen on Thursday.

Rouhani said that such an alliance would also bolster the security of the countries of the region and cut their reliance and spending on weapons to ensure security.

"Investment in each other's countries would be the best defensive factor," Rouhani noted, adding, "Aircraft, vessels and tanks do not bring security for us. Connection between nations brings security. Instead of fighters, the number of railroads should be increased. Instead of tanks, the number of highways should be increased. Instead of weapons arsenals, traffic of ships should be increased."

"You are witnessing that countries in different parts of the world have paved the way for the growth of their region through cooperating with each other in economic areas," Rouhani told the meeting which was attended by Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdallah, Omani Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Ali Akbar Sibeveih, Iran's ambassador to the Sultanate, and other officials.

The Iranian president pointed out that the activities of the members of Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and Nafta (North American Free Trade Agreement) have made the economies of their regions "blossom" and have contributed to their growth and stability.

"The establishment of a railroad from this region to northern countries is one of our policies," he added.  Rouhani also said that the new Iranian administration's priority in its foreign policy is to forge closer ties with the Islamic world, particularly its neighbours.

"We should bring our hearts closer. We should bring regional countries closer. For a region to grow, their economies should complement each other.

"To bring them closer, we have to define common interests and resolve the existing disagreements step by step but permanently. We should bring our views and cultures closer," Rouhani said.    

Facilitating investment regulations can help enhance economic cooperation, Rouhani added.   

The Iranian president also said that regional countries should avoid unhealthy rivalry with each other, which sometimes become "hostile".

Said bin Saleh Al Kiyumi, Chairman of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI), in his speech said that it is surprising that trade ties between the two countries in the private sector are not as strong as it should be given exemplary bilateral relations.

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