Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said late Sunday that he is happy to see that Azerbaijan has regained control over its occupied territories from Armenia.
Zarif arrived in Azerbaijan on Sunday night on the first leg of his regional tour of the Caucasus, which is aimed at promoting regional cooperation.
Upon his arrival at the Baku airport, the top diplomat said that Iran is "ready to help" people in Azerbaijan return to their homes in the liberated territories "as soon as possible."
He also reaffirmed his country's commitment to reconstruction efforts in war-torn Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but had been under the occupation of ethnic Armenian separatists for nearly three decades.
The territories were freed from Armenian occupation after a monthslong armed conflict between the two warring sides that ended with a Moscow-brokered truce in November.
Zarif, whose visit to Azerbaijan and other regional countries had been postponed earlier, is scheduled to hold talks with top Azerbaijani officials on Monday.
Among the issues to figure prominently in the discussions are reconstruction efforts in war-torn Karabakh and the implementation of joint economic projects.
The two sides reached an agreement last week to boost economic cooperation, with Baku welcoming Iran's offer to contribute to the reconstruction work in Karabakh.
Regarding the reconstruction of Karabakh, Azerbaijani officials have said that the country will simplify procedures for planned investment in its recently liberated territories, adding that Turkish companies will be prioritized in tenders in a bid to improve the quality of construction projects.
Baku immediately launched a reconstruction campaign across Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding seven provinces once they were liberated from Armenia in late 2020. The government plans to revive the area, which has been dilapidated since the Armenian invasion in the early 1990s, allowing for the return of the Azerbaijanis who once called the region home. An extensive rebuilding and development initiative is now underway under the directive of President Ilham Aliyev.
The government plans to help facilitate the reconstruction process for foreign investors. With the legislative amendments, the bureaucratic barriers in tenders will be removed and the base price list of construction material ordered by companies will be updated.
The regional tour will also take Zarif to Armenia, Russia and Turkey this week, which he said is aimed at the promotion of regional cooperation and expansion of bilateral relations.
Iran, which shares a 132-kilometer (82-mile) border with Azerbaijan, has traditionally maintained a neutral stance on Karabakh. However, following the latest flare-up, calls in the country have grown in favor of Baku.
Tehran recently announced its readiness to play a role in strengthening the cease-fire between Azerbaijan and Armenia, while emphasizing the need for a "permanent solution" to the crisis.
There have been reports of the Armenian side frequently violating the cease-fire deal reached between the two sides in November.
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27, the Armenian military launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violated several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.
During the conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from the Armenian occupation.
The two countries signed a Russian-brokered agreement on Nov. 10 to end the fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution. A joint Turkish-Russian center has been established to monitor the truce, and Russian and Turkish peacekeeping troops have been deployed in the region.
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