Leading education, diplomatic, and business officials from Australia and Iran have held their first high-level talks since the regular gathering was suspended a decade ago.
ANU Chancellor and former Australian Foreign Minister, Professor the Hon. Gareth Evans, and Distinguished Professor Amin Saikal led the Australia-Iran Dialogue, which met in Teheran’s Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS).
“The ANU and the Iranian participants in the dialogue gained a deeper and wider understanding of each other’s perspectives on bilateral, regional and international issues,” Professor Saikal, the Director of the ANU Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (CAIS), says.
“This is important in terms of promoting objectively based cooperative ties between not only the two institutions but also Australia and Iran, especially in cultural and educational arenas.”
They also discussed global and regional developments, such as the multilateral nuclear agreement called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and the ongoing Syrian conflict.
Other Australian dignitaries included Professor Michael Wesley, Dean of the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, Ian Biggs, Australia’s Ambassador to Iran, Tom Harley, Dragoman Managing Director, Martine Letts (BA ’82), CEO of Committee for Melbourne and delegation secretary, Rachel Larobina.
Iran’s delegation included IPIS President and Deputy Foreign Minister, Dr Mohamad Kazem Sajadpour, IPIS Deputy Director Mohsen Rouhisefat, several former Iranian ambassadors, and representatives from the Iranian Foreign Ministry.
The Australian delegation also held talks with education officials on boosting ties between ANU and Iran, and met senior Iranian dignitaries including former Iranian foreign ministers, Dr Ali Akbar Velayati and Dr Kamal Kharazi, who are both senior advisors to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Professor Saikal and former Iranian ambassador to Australia, Gholamali Khoshroo, created the talks in 2000. Australia and Iran will next year mark 50 years of diplomatic relations.
“In order to take our exchanges further, with practical results, we have decided to continue the Dialogue on a yearly basis, as had originally been designed, and as such it will be the turn of the Centre and ANU to host the next round of the Dialogue in 2018,” Professor Saikal says.