Iran, Syria sign 11 agreements as part of long-term strategic econmic coop

Syria and Iran signed 11 agreements and memoranda of understanding late Monday, including a "long-term strategic economic cooperation" deal aimed at strengthening cooperation between Damascus and one of its key allies in the civil war that has torn the country apart.

The agreements covered a range of fields including economy, culture, education, infrastructure, investment and housing, the official Sana news agency reported.

They were signed during a visit to Damascus by Iran's First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, who was also accompanied by a large business delegation. 

Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis said it was "a message to the world on the reality of Syrian-Iranian cooperation", citing "legal and administrative facilities" to benefit Iranian companies wishing to invest in Syria and contribute "effectively to reconstruction".

The agreements included two memos of understanding between the railway authorities of the two countries as well as between their respective investment promotion authorities.

Addressing an Iranian-Syrian business forum in Damascus, Jahangiri said “ministers confirmed that banking transactions will take place very soon between the countries,” according to Reuters. 

Abdolnaser Hemmati, Iran’s central bank governor, said the agreement enabled banks to conduct transactions in their local currencies and non-dollar foreign currencies.

In relation to infrastructure, there was also rehabilitation of the ports of Tartus and Latakia as well as the construction of a 540-megawatt energy plant, according to Khamis. 

In addition, there were "dozens of projects in the oil sector and agriculture", he added.

The civil war has taken an enormous toll on the Syrian economy and infrastructure, with the cost of war-related destruction estimated by the UN at about $400 billion.

Iran will stand "alongside Syria during the next phase that will be marked by reconstruction", Jahangiri promised.

Iran and Syria had already signed a military cooperation agreement in August while Tehran has supported Damascus economically during the conflict through oil deliveries and several lines of credit.

The new agreements come against the backdrop of fresh US sanctions against Iran, while Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and several Syrian businesspeople and companies are already on US and European blacklists.

Syria’s president said Tuesday that new trade agreements with Iran will help the two countries face the “economic war” waged against them by the West, according to the Associated Press. 

Bashar Assad spoke during a meeting with visiting Iranian First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri.

Sources: Iran Chamber of Commerce

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