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Moscow, Iran Sign Economic Pacts, Hint Future Arms Deals

June 22, 1989|From Reuters

MOSCOW — The Soviet Union and Iran signed wide-ranging agreements Wednesday to boost economic cooperation to the year 2000.

The pacts were sealed during a landmark visit to Moscow by Hashemi Rafsanjani, Speaker of Iran's Parliament.

Tass news agency said Rafsanjani also invited Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev to pay a return visit to Iran.

The chief of the Soviet armed forces indicated earlier Wednesday that Soviet arms sales to Iran are being considered. But Gen. Mikhail A. Moiseyev said the decision will be made by political leaders, not military men.

The accords, seen as cementing a gradual improvement in once-tense Soviet-Iranian relations, cover commercial, economic, scientific and technological cooperation in a number of fields, including nuclear energy.

Tass, reporting on a second day of talks between Gorbachev and Rafsanjani, also said they agreed to discuss putting an Iranian astronaut into space aboard a Soviet craft as well as construction of a railway link between Moscow and Tehran.

Both sides issued a joint political declaration aimed at strengthening good-neighborliness between the two countries, which have a 1,600-mile common border.

"Your arrival in the Soviet Union testifies to the fact that Soviet-Iranian relations have taken another step forward," Gorbachev said to Rafsanjani in a dinner speech.

"There were periods in the past when our border was turned into an impenetrable wall," he added. "It is good that it seems that these times are past."

Although both sides pointed to a steady improvement of ties between Iran and the Soviet Union, Gorbachev indicated in his dinner speech that bilateral relations were suffering from the continuing civil war in Afghanistan.

Iran, together with Pakistan, supports Muslim guerrillas fighting the Kremlin-backed government in Kabul in what the Kremlin sees as contravention of the April, 1988, Geneva accords under which Soviet troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan.

"Both our countries are affected by the Afghan conflict, most of all and in the most immediate way," Gorbachev said.

"We, for our part, are doing everything possible for the Afghan people to have peace and calm in its house at last. If everyone strictly observed the Geneva accords . . . this goal would have already been achieved."

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