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Iran’s top automaker sets sights on Russian market

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran’s leading automaker is seeking to prioritise exports to Russia, its CEO said on Sunday, as both countries reel under Western economic sanctions.

Iran Khodro unveiled the latest model of its crossover Rira vehicle at its factory west of Tehran, where CEO Mehdi Khatibi announced the manufacturer’s ambitions for the Russian market.

“We are going to pay special attention to the Russian market, and we are also thinking of partnering with Russian investors,” he said.

“We have held good negotiations with Moscow. The Russian market, with its capacities, will be one of our important markets,” Khatibi added.

“We will begin exporting this year” to Russia, he said.

Technicians work on Peugeot 207 and 206 car production lines at the Iran Khodro auto plant, west of Tehran. PHOTO: AFP

Iran Khodro had previously exported vehicles to Russia, notably between 2007 and 2009, Iranian media said.

Sunday’s announcement comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Tehran in July and met his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Russia has come under increasingly tough sanctions since its February invasion of Ukraine, while Iran has faced stringent sanctions reimposed in 2018 when the United States unilaterally pulled out of a nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. The two countries have responded to the sanctions by boosting cooperation in key areas to help prop up their economies.

Iran Khodro’s Vice President Kianoush Pourmojib, struck an optimistic note on Sunday, pointing to increased exports to Azerbaijan over the past five years.

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