Iran steps up energy, economic support to Syria

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iran renewed its readiness to “provide Syria with all elements of support, including supplying its energy requirements” during a meeting with a Syrian economic delegation in Tehran on Sunday.

The meeting saw Syrian minister of petroleum, Suleiman Abbas, and his Iranian counterpart, Rastem Ghasemi, sign an agreement to import Iranian gas into Syria via Iraqi territory.

The framework agreement came after both sides explored options for a special credit line that will ensure the provision of gas, oil, and its derivatives, to Syria.

Syrian Central Bank governor, Adib Mayalah, and Syrian ambassador to Tehran, Adnan Mahmoud, were also present at the discussions, which also looked at joint action to overcome international economic sanctions.

The Syrian economy has been affected by international and bilateral sanctions in response to the brutal government crackdown against the Syrian revolution which began in April 2011. These “restrictive measures” have compounded the deteriorating financial status of the embattled state which has entered its third year of civil war, resulting in declining living standards across Syria.

Syria’s state-owned SANA news agency reported that Syrian petroleum minister Suleiman Abbas said: “The implementation of the agreements reached by the two sides will reflect positively on the living conditions of the Syrian people.”

Talks also took place between general secretary to the Syrian prime minister, Tisir Al-Zaabi, and the Iranian minister of industries and business, Mehdi Ghazanfari. The two officials followed up the implementation of economic and trade agreements that secure food and basic amenities. A billion dollar credit line, covering Syrian needs such as electricity, medical supplies, and food commodities was also reviewed.

Syrian and Iranian officials also met in Tehran to accelerate the implementation of contracts and agreements that had previously been reached between the two sides.

Prior to this, Syrian Central Bank governor entered talks with Iran Central Bank officials to discuss credit lines for oil and food consumption.

The two sides stressed the important effects that the credit line will have in economic, commercial, financial, health, and service sectors.

However director general of the Commercial Bank of Syria, Faris Salman, revealed that new mechanisms dealing with the credit line are set to be adopted. In a statement to the Watan newspaper he said that promised goods have already arrived, including flour for making bread.

“These payments have been shipped to Syria directly, without any complications or additional procedures,” Salman told the Syrian newspaper, confirming “the credit line between the Commercial Bank of Syria and the Export Development Bank of Iran.”

Salman pointed out that this was the first time that the Syrian bank had worked with the Iranian market on this scale. He also revealed that some Iranian companies had visited Syrian firms, concluded contracts, and are currently in the process of supplying goods.

He revealed some shipments, particularly shipments of flour, have already arrived in Syria, despite the fact that many contracts have yet to be officially concluded. Salman emphasized that this represents a gesture of good faith on the part of the Iranian companies.

The official affirmed that the Syrian side will experience “substantial changes in the mechanisms of consumption” as a result of the credit line, which will be fully implemented following the creating a financial and legal framework between Tehran and Damascus.

By Asharq Alawsat


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