- Putin meets Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei and president Raisi
- Russian leader to discuss Ukraine grain exports with Erdogan
- Turkish threat of Syrian operation also in focus
President of Russia reached Tehran on Tuesday.
It is a working visit to Iran to attend a trilateral meeting between the leaders of the guarantor states of the Astana process to facilitate settlement in Syria.
Vladimir Putin is also expected to hold separate bilateral meetings with the leaders of Iran and Turkiye.
Putin heads to Tehran for talks with Iranian and Turkish leaders.
Russian President Vladimir Putin reached Tehran on Tuesday for talks with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
It is his second foreign trip since the launch of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine on February 24. In late June, he visited Turkmenistan and Tajikistan to meet the countries’ leaders and attend the sixth Caspian Summit, in which Iran also took part.
The trilateral negotiations in the Iranian capital will be held as part of the so-called Astana Peace Process, which was launched by Moscow, Tehran and Ankara in 2017 with the aim of achieving a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Syria.
According to the Kremlin, the three heads of state will discuss steps to fully eradicate the hotbed of international terrorism in the country, the facilitation of the inter-Syrian peace process and solutions to humanitarian issues, including post-conflict reconstruction.
Putin, Raisi and Erdogan will issue a joint statement after the negotiations, Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov said on Monday, adding that its draft had already been prepared.
Bilateral talks between the leaders will also take place, while Putin is also expected to meet with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
During those meetings, the Russian president and his interlocutors will discuss the situation around the stalled talks on restoring the Iranian nuclear deal.
Trade will also be on the agenda, with Moscow and Tehran preparing a new major cooperation deal, Ushakov said.
“Iran is an important partner of Russia. Our relations are friendly, have a centuries-old history, and are developing very effectively in many areas. Both sides have plans to take bilateral cooperation to a new level – the level of strategic partnership,” he pointed out.
Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, who earlier gave an interview to the Iranian media, said trade between Russia and Iran had surpassed $4 billion in 2021, and grew by 31% in the first four months of this year.
With Russia and Iran being among the most sanctioned nations in the world, Peskov expressed confidence that the two countries would be able to build relations that will allow them to minimize the effect of international restrictions on their economies.
When it comes to Ukraine, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made it clear that Tehran would not provide assistance to any of the sides of the conflict as it believes that the conflict “has to be stopped.” By saying so, the minister refuted the US claims that his country was planning to provide Russia with hundreds of drones, including combat drones.
At the same time, Raisi has said on multiple occasions that Tehran stands ready to contribute to a diplomatic resolution of the Ukrainian conflict.
Putin’s bilateral meeting with Erdogan is expected to touch on the issue of Ukrainian grain exports from the Black Sea ports, according to Ushakov. Turkey, which declares itself a neutral country when it comes to the situation in Ukraine, has been engaged in various issue-resolving initiatives. It recently hosted multilateral consultations on the grain issue, with the participation of Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations.
Food security was also one of the main subjects of the phone conversation between Putin and Erdogan last week. The Turkish leader said at the time that “it was time for the United Nations to take action for the plan regarding the formation of secure corridors via the Black Sea.”
In March, Istanbul hosted a crucial round of peace negotiations between Kiev and Moscow.
According to Reuters,
LONDON/DUBAI, July 19 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Iran on Tuesday, the Kremlin leader’s first trip outside the former Soviet Union since Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
During his visit to Tehran, Putin will also hold his first face-to-face meeting since the invasion with a NATO leader, Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan, to discuss a deal that would resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports as well as peace in Syria.
Putin’s trip, which comes just days after U.S. President Joe Biden visited Israel and Saudi Arabia, sends a strong message to the West about Moscow’s plans to forge closer strategic ties with Iran, China and India in the face of Western sanctions.
Footage of Putin’s meeting with Khamenei showed the Russian leader and the Iranian president sat together a few metres from the Supreme Leader, in a spartan white room. Only an Iranian flag and a portrait of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini could be seen in the background.
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“The contact with Khamenei is very important,” Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s foreign policy adviser, told reporters in Moscow. “A trusting dialogue has developed between them on the most important issues on the bilateral and international agenda.”
“On most issues, our positions are close or identical.”
For Iran, also chafing under Western economic sanctions and at loggerheads with the United States over Tehran’s nuclear programme and a range of other issues, Putin’s visit is timely.
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Its clerical leaders are keen to strengthen strategic relations with Russia in the face of an emerging U.S.-backed Gulf Arab-Israeli bloc that could tilt the Middle East balance of power further away from Iran.
“Both our countries have good experience in countering terrorism and this has provided much security to our region,” Raisi said after talks with Putin. “I hope your visit to Iran will increase cooperation between our two independent countries.”
Emboldened by high oil prices since the Ukraine war, Iran is betting that with Russia’s support it could pressure Washington to offer concessions for the revival of a 2015 nuclear deal.
However, Russia’s increased tilt towards Beijing in recent months has significantly reduced Iran’s crude exports to China – a key source of income for Tehran since U.S. President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions in 2018.
Ahead of Putin’s arrival, the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and Russian gas producer Gazprom (GAZP.MM) signed a memorandum of understanding worth around $40 billion.
High on the agenda in Tuesday’s trilateral talks that will also include Turkey will be efforts to reduce violence in Syria, where Erdogan has threatened to launch more military operations to extend 30-km (20-mile) deep “safe zones” along the border. Moscow and Tehran both oppose any such action by Turkey.
“Maintaining the territorial integrity of Syria is very important, and any military attack in northern Syria will definitely harm Turkey, Syria and the entire region, and benefit terrorists,” Khamenei told Erdogan. read more
Erdogan said terrorism remained a common concern and threat for Iran and Turkey, and the two countries needed to wage a battle against all threats, including Kurdish fighters in Turkey, Syria and Iran considered terrorists by Ankara.
Any Turkish operation in Syria would attack the Kurdish YPG militia, a key part of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that controls large parts of north Syria and is regarded by Washington as an important ally against Islamic State.
A senior Turkish official said Turkey’s planned operation would be discussed in Tehran, as would reports that Russia and Kurdish forces were acting together in some areas of Syria.
Russia and Iran are Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s strongest backers, while Turkey supports anti-Assad insurgents.
Putin, who turns 70 this year, has made few foreign trips in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then the Ukraine crisis. His last trip beyond the former Soviet Union was to China in February.
His bilateral talks with Erdogan will focus on a plan to get Ukrainian grain exports moving again.
Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations are expected to sign a deal later this week aimed at resuming the shipping of grain from Ukraine across the Black Sea
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