0319 GMT February 21, 2019
President Hassan Rouhani said his government’s priority is to establish “strategic ties” with Iran’s neighbors to mitigate the impact of problems facing the country.
“At present, we should prioritize closer and strategic relations with our neighbors,” the president said during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
“There is good potential and in case our ties with our neighboring countries are boosted, we can overcome problems easily,” he added.
Iran shares land and maritime borders with 15 countries, many of them are Iran’s main trading partners.
Iran’s neighboring countries by land – namely Afghanistan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iraq, Turkmenistan and Armenia – as well as neighboring countries by maritime borders – namely Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, and Russia – were among the list of Iran’s 100 export destinations.
Only Saudi Arabia, which has maritime border with Iran, did not make it to the list as Tehran-Riyadh relations have significantly soured in recent years.
Commenting on the recently proposed budget bill for the next Iranian year (starting on March 21), the president said his government aims to improve living conditions.
“The first target of the budget bill is to improve living conditions and reduce people’s pains inflicted as a result of sanctions,” he said.
The president said the government tries to control markets and reduce prices by measures adopted in the new budget, which he said will not throw away subsidies offered for services.
“The government strives not to reduce the services’ subsidies or reduce them to a smaller extent.
“The government pays lots of subsidies in water, electricity, fuel, education and health sectors. We do not plan to remove them,” he assured.
President Rouhani on Tuesday unveiled Iran's first annual budget since the return of US sanctions, saying it had been adjusted to take account of Washington's “cruel” measures.
General revenues in the budget bill stand at $38.76 billion, 5.44 percent higher compared to the budget law for the current Iranian calendar year (March 2018-19).
The budget bill's submission comes at a time when the United States has reimposed what it calls “toughest ever” sanctions against Iran's economy after US President Donald Trump on May 8 walked out of the nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers in 2015.
The sanctions, which came in two waves, one in August and another in November, seek to limit Iran's trade with the world, especially the Islamic Republic's exports of oil—traditionally a major source of revenue for the Iranian government.