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Iran, Qatar eye more trade, economic relations

TEHRAN, July 18 (Reuters) - Iran and the Gulf Arab state of Qatar agreed on Tuesday to develop trade and economic ties by avoiding double taxation and promoting joint investment, the Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

Other agreements, signed at the end of a visit by the Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to Tehran, called for more technical, medical and cultural exchanges, IRNA said.

The two countries are also to launch direct flights between the Qatari capital Doha and Iran's northeastern city of Mashhad, a major pilgrimage destination for Shi'ite Moslems.

In a joint statement quoted by Iranian state television, Iran and Qatar expressed concern over ``Israel's production, storage and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction'' and support for the Palestinians.

Sheikh Hamad earlier held talks with Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran, current head of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), will hand over the post to Qatar later this year.

The 56-member OIC represents countries where most of the world's 1.2 billion Moslems live.

Ties between Iran and most of its Gulf Arab neighbours have improved since the reformist Khatami took office in 1997.


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