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Iran to invest $10b in Syria by 2012


TEHRAN, Sept. 14 (Mehr News Agency) - Iran will make $10 billion investments in Syria within the next five years, the acting industries and mines minister announced in Tehran on Friday.

In his return from Syria, Ali-Akbar Mehrabian expounded the results of his trip, saying Iran-Syria relations are strategic.

He added that the sides are currently cooperating in 16 projects valued at some $1 billion, predicting that the figure will reach $10 billion by 2012.

The official said that six working groups were formed in cement, glass, rubber, auto, food, and other industries.

Referring to the financing of joint ventures, the caretaker added that a joint investment fund with a $200 million capital was established.

Pointing to two Iranian carmaking projects in Syria, Mehrabian added that the first phase of Iran Khodro Company (IKCO) will be put into operation in the near future and the factory of SAIPA's Pride sedan production will go on stream after the holy month of Ramadan with a production capacity of 10,000 cars.

He predicted the figure will hit 40 thousand sedans, noting that an automaking project in an Arab country like Syria will facilitate the sedan's export to other Arab states.

Alluding to the establishment of an Iranian auto parts manufacturer's industrial park in Syria, he declared that the glass manufacturing plant will become operational on Oct. 12.

Mehrabian said that the parties reached an agreement on construction of a bus and truck manufacturing plant in Syria, announcing three contracts were signed by parts producers.

He submitted Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's written message to Bashar Assad, the Syrian president.

In the meet, the sides appraised the industrial projects, he said.

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