BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Leaders of Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan met on Monday to discuss a new transport corridor and other economic projects in the Caspian Sea region.
A prospective railway link between Iran and Azerbaijan is expected to become part of a transport corridor that would run from India all the way to St. Petersburg in Russia, providing a faster and cheaper alternative to existing sea routes.
"The North-South transport corridor would be highly efficient," Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said during the talks. He added that construction is already under way to link Azerbaijani and Iranian railways.
Prior to the trilateral talks, Russia's President Vladimir Putin met separately with Aliyev and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, hailing the "multi-faceted" cooperation with Iran and burgeoning economic ties with Azerbaijan.
It was the first time the three nations had such a meeting, and the three leaders said the new format should help improve ties. Rouhani offered to host the next such meeting.
Putin pointed at threats posed by the Islamic State group and other extremists, saying that the three nations need to cooperate more closely to tackle that and other challenges.
The three leaders also signed a joined declaration, urging stronger global action against terrorism and organized crime.