TEHRAN -- President Ebrahim Raisi said Friday that Iran and Russia reached “fundamental agreements” on expanding all-out bilateral relations to secure mutual interests when he paid a two-day visit to Moscow.
“Development of relations with Russia will definitely contribute to the security and prosperity of the two nations and this security-building cooperation will serve the region,” he said after arriving in Tehran.
In his trip, which began on Wednesday, the two sides discussed steps to end the dominance of the U.S. dollar and continue trade in their national currencies, Raisi said.
“Our oil minister had good agreements with Russian energy officials, the effects of which will emerge later,” he said, adding good agreements were reached on removing obstacles to boosting trade relations.
However, the level of trade relations is “not acceptable”, the president stated.
Officials have said the two sides seek to increase the current record $3.5 billion bilateral trade.
Raisi said, “We decided to increase the level of trade between the two countries to $10 billion in the first stage.”
“In the field of agriculture, there were also good discussions that would lead to real exchanges of agricultural products,” he said.
In the field of transportation, the two sides decided to advance the North-South corridor which will facilitate transportation and greatly reduce transportation time, the president added.
Tehran and Moscow also reached agreements to expand their cooperation in the industry, defense, and aerospace sectors, President Raisi said.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Raisi hailed bilateral ties during their meeting in Moscow.
Raisi said he had presented Moscow with draft documents on strategic cooperation that would cement joint collaboration for the next two decades.
“We in Iran have no limits for expanding ties with Russia,” the Iranian president said on his first state visit since taking office in August.
He said Tehran wanted to develop relations with Moscow that would “not be temporary, but permanent and strategic.”
“Today’s exceptional circumstances require significant synergy between our two countries against U.S. unilateralism,” he said in televised remarks.
Putin praised the countries’ “close cooperation” on the international stage and said.
Moscow and Tehran have strong political, economic, and military ties, shared interests in Afghanistan, and are key allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his country’s decade-long battle against foreign-backed terrorists.
Prior to his departure for Moscow, Raisi expressed hope that the visit would lead to a “turning point” in his country’s relations with Russia.
For their part, Iran’s petroleum and economy ministers who accompanied Raisi said their talks with their counterparts exceeded expectations. The ministers said agreements were made in trade, energy, transportation and banking sectors and promised that the results would be felt in the foreseeable future.
Nicole Grajewski, a research fellow
with the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, told Al Jazeera that Russia-Iran relations are significantly stronger today than they were the last time an Iranian president visited Russia in 2017 under Hassan Rouhani.
Observers say Iran and Russia have shared interests across the region that will be maintained or improved regardless of others factors, such as the Vienna talks – something that was also apparent in the two presidents’ meeting.
Both Raisi and Putin praised “successful” joint efforts in Syria. They agreed that “combating terrorism” in Syria is a shared goal.
Iran and Russia have a shared concern about the fate of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan after the chaotic U.S. exit in August. Both have been active in organizing talks to find solutions on a number of issues.
Along with China, Iran and Russia have repeatedly denounced U.S. “unilateralism”. And Moscow and Beijing recently supported Tehran’s successful bid to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Putin on Wednesday also expressed his support for Iran to gain a larger foothold in the Eurasian Economic Union, and said both sides are working to create a free-trade zone.
Lastly, Russia has been vocal about its interests in being increasingly engaged in mediating efforts on Persian Gulf and regional security.
On Friday, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia wants to organize a conference to resolve regional issues through dialogue.
Lavrov described it as “a conference that would bring Iranians and Arabs together where Iran would not be the subject of discussion and where each side would lay their concerns on the table” and would address issues with Yemen, Syria and Iraq as well.
Speaking with Russia’s RT television in an exclusive interview, Raisi said the U.S. must be held accountable for the assassination of Iran’s top anti-terror commander, Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in Iraq two years ago.
“Qassem Soleimani belonged not only to the people of Iran, but also to the Muslim community. He came to save people’s lives. He made efforts in this direction, and all people, both Muslims and non-Muslims of course, have great respect for his work,” he said.