SAYING it is also suffering from the atrocities of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS), Iran has offered to help the Philippines fight all forms of terrorism and extremism through intelligence sharing.
Mohammad Tanhaei, Iran’s Ambassador to the Philippines, said while there is no existing agreement to combat terrorism between the two countries, Iran is ready to extend assistance.
“We are ready [to help]if you are in need we are ready to have that kind of cooperation.
We are quite ready to help the Philippines in order to fight any form of terrorism and extremism, it makes no difference to us,” Tanhaei said during a roundtable discussion with editors and reporters of The Manila Times on Wednesday.
“We have some good capabilities because we have been in that very dangerous situation from east terrorist groups, west terrorist groups and from north and south. We are in a very dangerous region. We have a good knowledge [of extremists], we have good experience,” he added.
The envoy said Iran has forged agreements to fight terrorism with other countries, particularly those in Europe.
“We have been in touch with other countries, we exchange information and [hold]consultations on how to deal with these phenomena with the terrorist activities in Iraq in Syria. But it’s a worldwide concern,” he pointed out.
Tanhaei said Iran is determined to help countries battle terrorism, particularly to stop ISIS from recruiting more members in Asia, particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia.
“I don’t see any single country would be able to fight unilaterally against terrorism. We are ready to share our intelligence, our capacity, capabilities to the Philippines or any country that needs help on terrorism,” he added.
“We are focusing on that and we are ready to cooperate with the international community, if the Philippines is ready, we can help.”
Earlier reports disclosed that armed Muslim groups in southern Philippines sympathetic to ISIS militants continue their recruitment in the restive region.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it welcomes Iran’s move because the military needs relevant information on terrorism.
“At this point in time, any relevant information that can help us in our fight against terror is very much welcome. We are part of the effort to fight terrorism and sharing of information plays a very important role,” said Col. Noel Detoyato, chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office.
Tanhaei is optimistic that trade relations between Manila and Tehran will grow as a result of lifting of sanctions on Iran.
The ambassador said the lifting has opened more economic opportunities between the Philippines and Iran.
“Because of the lifting of the sanctions, we have a very good potentiality between Iran and the Philippines,” Tanhaei added, citing the opportunities in the agricultural and technological industries.
In 2011, bilateral trade was pegged at almost $1 billion but it went down to below $200 million in 2014 after a decade of sanctions from the US, the European Union and the UN Security Council.
“Iran is a demanding market because we always import,” Tanhaei said.
“Iran is the number one destination of export bananas and Philippine bananas are famous.
The quality is quite okay. The brand is famous among Iranians. The Philippines has a good reputation in Iran,” the ambassador added.
The Philippines has been exporting fresh bananas to Iran for almost two decades. In 2008, Iran’s banana import hit a high 510,642 metric tons but because of the UN’s trade restrictions over Iran’s nuclear activities, it went down to 148,892 MT in 2014.
The Philippines also exports fresh bananas to Japan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Russia, New Zealand, Mongolia, Ukraine, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
The Philippines is the second largest banana exporter in the world.
The ambassador said Iran can also contribute to the economic development of the country though its knowledge in technological industry development.
“We are one of the ten top countries in the world on nano technology. We have very good knowledge research centers and student researchers on technology. We exchanged these technologies with Japan, the United States, France and Germany. And in the Philippines we can do the same. In the Philippines, there are some good capacities and high technologies,” he noted.