President Ebrahim Raeisi said Tehran gives special priority to economic cooperation with Asian countries, particularly with its neighbors in South, West and Central Asia and Caucasus.
“I have put the policy of ‘maximum cooperation’ with neighbors on the agenda of my administration,” he said during an address to the Economic Cooperation Organization summit meeting in Dushanbe, Turkmenistan, on Sunday, President.ir reported. 
Along this line, he said, Iran devotes much attention and efforts to improving the status of regional organizations, as facilitators of bilateral and multilateral collaborations, a clear example of which is the very Economic Cooperation Organization.
The ECO has had great achievements over the past years, but there is still a meaningful distance between those advancements and the real capacities and capabilities of the organization, Raeisi said, pointing as an example to the intra-region trade which stands below 10% despite the enormous existing potential for commerce.
“Iran seeks to promote the level of cooperation within the ECO and raise the status of this organization in regional and international relations,” he said. 
The president presented a list of requisites for such goal, including “seriousness in trade”, expressing Iran’s readiness to play a greater role in economic liberalization within the ECO to raise the level of intra-regional trade. 
Complementary “transport networks” in the ECO region are also essential, according to Raeisi, not only for the development of internal trade, but also to help member states, especially landlocked countries, to expand their commercial ties with the world.


US cruel sanctions are too small to disrupt Iran’s determination to carry out the policy of maximum cooperation with neighbors and the region, according to the president 

“We believe that the capacities for regional and extra-regional trade is so great that sooner or later all potential routes in the ECO region must be opened,” he said.
“Energy and its potential for commerce and development” must also receive due attention by ECO countries, Raeisi said. 
Completing unfinished projects such as creating a regional electricity market, a consortium of energy companies, a center for clean energies and a mechanism for cooperation in refining industries must take priority, he added. 
The president also said Iran is willing to add projects on water transfer to applicants, including the Islamic Republic, to the agenda of the organization. 
“Digital economy” is another requisite for ECO’s progress and Iran is ready to help member states in areas such as optical fiber connectivity, creation of joint digital platforms, technological exchanges and launching joint regional ICT markets, Raeisi said. 
Iran can help the organization hold annual meetings on cyber security and virtual education at professional level, he noted. 
The ECO also needs a new “financial architecture”, according to the president. 
“The ECO Trade and Development Bank must play a greater role in funding trade exchanges between member states by making legal and procedural reforms,” he said.    
Iran also continues to support the idea of an “ECO Joint Investment Fund” and is ready to deposit its share as soon as such system is established. 



Cooperation and Brotherhood

The Islamic Republic is ready to assist in finalizing other projects such as the launch of an ECO police (ECOPOL), mechanisms for judicial cooperation and the “Center for Cooperation of Anti-Corruption Agencies and Ombudsmen” in Tehran, Raeisi said.
Highlighting the urgent issue of climate change, he said the ECO and its environmental agency have already demonstrated its members’ adherence to the global guidelines by devising relevant projects. 
He said developed and industrial countries, who have a great share in creating the current environmental situation, must accept their responsibility and take steps toward funding and transferring the required technology to developing countries. 
“The ECO region must be one of the targets for receiving such aid.”    
The president also reiterated Iran’s position that the region must be managed by its own countries. 
“Iran’s support of the ECO and its activities is without condition, and the United States’ cruel sanctions against the country are too small to disrupt the Islamic Republic’s determination to carry out the policy of maximum cooperation with neighbors and the region,” he said. 
Iran has been under tough US sanctions ever since Washington pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal. 
Raeisi said by quitting the agreement and imposing illegal and unilateral sanctions, and adopting a policy of “maximum oppression” against Iran, the US showed that its interests are not compatible with collective interests of countries in this region.
“The interest of our region lies in beneficial cooperation and brotherhood of regional nations,” he said.  
Raeisi held bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Pakistan and Uzbekistan on the sidelines of the event, where they discussed potential for expanding mutual ties, as well as regional and international developments. 
He also met Iranian nationals and business people in Turkmenistan and conferred on ways to promote bilateral economic relations.