MOSCOW, October 6. /TASS/. Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) have begun to negotiate a permanent agreement on a free trade zone, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference following talks with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir Abdollahian on Wednesday.

“Iran has been a party to an interim agreement on the liberalization of mutual trade for a long time, and now we have begun to negotiate on a full-fledged permanent agreement on a free trade zone between Iran and the EAEU. The benefits of this process are obvious for all its participants,” the Foreign Minister said.

Lavrov recalled that Moscow positively assesses Iran’s interaction with the countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the EAEU.

In particular, Russia welcomed the decision of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO, whose meeting was held on September 16-17 in Dushanbe, to begin the procedures for Iran’s entry into the organization as its full-fledged member.

The minister noted that Iran can already take part in the activities of the SCO, including in the format of a contact group on Afghanistan.

“The importance of this format is growing, and we are interested in using it effectively. Well, all other areas of the SCO’s work – security, the war on terror, extremism, separatism, ensuring economic connectivity, transport connectivity – all of this fully meets the interests both the Russian Federation and Iran,” Lavrov concluded.

An interim agreement on a free trade zone between the EAEU and Iran was signed on May 17, 2018 and entered into force on October 27, 2019. In 2020, trade between the EAEU countries and Iran grew by 18.5% compared to 2019, reaching $2.9 billion. Russia accounts for the largest share of the EAEU trade with Iran (78.6%). The share of Kazakhstan is 11.2%, the shares of Belarus, Armenia and Kazakhstan are 0.7%, 8.9% and 0.7% respectively.

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