Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was in Vietnam this week, the first stop of a three-nation tour of Southeast Asia. During his visit, Rouhani and Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang agreed to work toward the goal of boosting trade to $2 billion. In an email interview, John Calabrese, an assistant professor at American University, discusses Iran’s diplomatic outreach in Southeast Asia.
WPR: What is the state of diplomatic and economic ties between Iran and Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam, and what areas and sectors present the best opportunities to deepen relations?
John Calabrese: Iran’s interactions with Southeast Asia are not new. Iranian traders have been present in the region for many centuries. Today, tens of thousands of Iranians live and work in Southeast Asia—more than 100,000 of them residing in Malaysia alone.