Syria, Iran sign 'strategic' economic agreement
Syria and Iran signed 11 agreements and memoranda of understanding late Monday (January 28th), including a "long-term strategic economic co-operation" deal aimed at strengthening co-operation between Damascus and one of its key allies, AFP report.
The agreements covered a range of fields including economy, culture, education, infrastructure, investment and housing, official news agency SANA reported.
They were signed during a visit to Damascus by Iran's First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri.
Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis said it was "a message to the world on the reality of Syrian-Iranian co-operation", citing "legal and administrative facilities" to benefit Iranian companies wishing to invest in Syria and contribute "effectively to reconstruction".
The agreements included two memos of understanding between the railway authorities of the two countries as well as between their respective investment promotion authorities.
In relation to infrastructure, there was also rehabilitation of the ports of Tartus and Latakia as well as construction of a 540-megawatt energy plant, according to Khamis.
In addition there were "dozens of projects in the oil sector and agriculture", he added.
As Syria's war draws down, Iran is looking for a means to maintain its influence through direct economic control, which analysts say will harm Syria and limit its options for dealing with other countries, especially in light of the sanctions imposed on Iran.