MOSCOW (Dispatches) —
Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted his Iranian counterpart Wednesday, hailing the two countries’ cooperation on the crisis in Syria and other international issues.
Greeting Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi at the start of their talks at the Kremlin, Putin noted that shared efforts by Moscow and Tehran have played a key role in “helping the Syrian government overcome the threats posed by international terrorism.”
Russia and Iran have joined forces to shore up Syrian President Bashar Assad, helping his government reclaim most of the country’s territory after a devastating war on the country by foreign-backed takfiri terrorists.
At the start of Wednesday’s talks, Putin also told Raisi that he would like to discuss their shared concerns about the situation in Afghanistan.
Raisi, elected last year, said Iran was willing to expand cooperation with Russia in the political, economic, defense and security spheres and in space exploration.
Last month, Iran launched a rocket into space with a satellite carrier bearing three devices, a move intended to showcase the nation’s growing technological prowess amid a standoff in talks on curtailing its nuclear program.
Raisi told Putin that Iran has drafted a proposed agreement on “strategic cooperation” between the countries for the next 20 years.
“We would like to develop strong and multifaceted ties with Russia,” Raisi said. “These relations should be durable and strategic.”
The videos also showed Putin sending his best regards to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
Raisi had earlier described the trip as a potential “turning point” in relations. “We have common interests which can help strengthen security in the region and prevent unilateralism [by the U.S.],” he added.
Hussein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s foreign minister, said the Iranian and Russian presidents agreed during the “important, cordial, and extended” meeting to devise “a long-term roadmap” for bilateral relations.
The relations have entered a “new, manifold, and accelerated” path, the top diplomat tweeted, noting that “the new chapter of the relations would feature premium cooperation.”
The meeting in Moscow comes as Iranian diplomats negotiate with their counterparts including from Russia in Vienna to help resurrect the 2015 nuclear deal, which collapsed after the U.S. abandoned it in 2018.
Iranian, European and Russian
diplomats have suggested some progress has been made in the talks.
Raisi and his officials have made clear economic progress will not be put on hold while the talks take place.
“Iran must export its crude and petrochemical products and minerals in order to develop its infrastructure and import technology so that the economy can grow,” said Majid-Reza Hariri, head of the Iran-China Chamber of Commerce.
“We are ready to do business with all countries other than the U.S. and Israel. But if other countries are not willing, we cannot lie down until we die. China is ready to enter into all our markets.”
China has been Iran’s top trading partner since 2014 and the main destination for Tehran’s crude exports in recent years. Last week, Amir-Abdollahian met Wang Yi, his Chinese counterpart, to mark the start of the implementation of a 25-year comprehensive co-operation plan signed last year.
Wang reiterated that Beijing was against the U.S. sanctions. “China firmly opposes illegal unilateral sanctions against Iran, political manipulation on human rights and other issues, and gross interference in the internal affairs of Iran and other regional countries,” he said, according to China’s foreign ministry.
The two countries’ long-term cooperation ranged from energy, infrastructure, production capacity, science and technology to medical and healthcare, agriculture, fisheries and cyber security, the ministry added.
Trade with Russia has also risen in recent months. The value of the two countries’ total trade stood at $1.6 billion over nine months ending in late December, up 41% over the corresponding period of the previous year, Iran’s official figures show. Raisi said on Wednesday he hoped it would increase further.
Iran’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that Raisi’s visit was vital to Iran’s approach of “look toward east” — rather than west.