Iranian President Hassan Rouhani underlined Tehran's policy for establishing closer relations with the neighbors, and expressed displeasure in the current volume of trade exchanges with Kazakhstan, given the two nations' potentials and capacities.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran's policy is based on close relations with the neighbors and the regional states, and Kazakhstan enjoys a special position in this regard," Rouhani said in a meeting with Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov in Astana on Tuesday.
He referred to the age-old and friendly relations between Tehran and Astana, and said, "The common possibilities and capabilities can improve the two countries' economy to the interest of both the Iranian and Kazakh nations."
Rouhani pointed to the current $1bln volume of trade exchanges between Iran and Kazakhstan, and said, "This figure shows that the two countries have not been able to use their capacities and capabilities to increase the volume of trade exchanges."
He underlined that the two Iranian and Kazakh nations are determined to develop and deepen their relations, and said during the four meetings he had with his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev during the past year, he had witnessed a strong will for the expansion of Astana's ties with Tehran.
Following the meeting, Rouhani told reporters that Tehran and Astana were planning to start a considerable boost in their trade transactions.
"We intend to gradually increase the volume of Tehran-Astana trade exchanges by up to five times," President Rouhani told reporters in Astana on Tuesday.
The Iranian president pointed to the grounds on which the two nations plan to widen their ties and exchanges, and said, "The two countries will increase their cooperation in different areas, including energy and transportation."
President Rouhani also referred to the launch of Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway, and said, "Kazakhstan can transit around five million tons of its export commodities to Iran's Southern ports per year once the new Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway starts operation."
President Rouhani left Tehran for a bi-nation tour of Central Asia on Monday.
The Iranian president is accompanied by a high-ranking political and economic delegation, including a number of cabinet members.
Iranian and Kazakh officials in a meeting in Astana on Tuesday signed several cooperation agreements in different areas.
The agreements were signed during a ceremony attended by Rouhani and Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan's capital .
The cooperation pacts covered a wide range of areas, including international transportation, trade, industry and five-year cooperation between the two countries' foreign ministries.
President Rouhani left Astana for Dushanbe earlier this morning to attend the 14th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and discuss bilateral ties with participants on the sidelines of the high-profile meeting.