Tehran, Iran – Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have expressed their support for boosting bilateral ties and discussed regional and international issues during their first in-person meeting.
Putin hosted Raisi, who was elected in August, at the Kremlin on Wednesday as part of a two-day Moscow visit by the Iranian president, the first since 2017.
Seated on opposite sides of a large oval table, Raisi told Putin that Iran sees no limitations in developing ties with Russia, and believes the two countries’ relations have been elevated to the “strategic” level and will only grow.
“Boosting bilateral cooperation between Iran and Russia will lead to the development of the two countries’ economies and increased security across the region and the world,” the Iranian president said.
Raisi pointed to “combating terrorism” and organised crime as other areas the two can work together, and said their “successful experience” in Syria – where both sides have backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the war – can also be employed in Afghanistan and the Caucasus.
“The infiltration of NATO under any guise in the Caucasus and Central Asia will threaten the common interests of independent countries,” said Raisi, as Russia and the West are at odds over Ukraine, where Russia has engaged in a military build-up near the border.
“Just like you, we have also stood up against US sanctions from 40 years ago,” the president said. “Today’s exceptional circumstances require significant synergy between our two countries against US unilateralism.”
Raisi also said Iran has handed overdraft documents on a new 20-year cooperation agreement to the Russian side. The countries’ previous agreement expired last year, and they have been working to make improvements.
Before heading for Moscow, Raisi had said the trip could mark a “turning point” in bilateral relations, adding that Iran and Russia can expand ties on political, economic, trade, security, and space matters.
Nuclear deal, Middle East
Putin praised the “close cooperation” of the two countries on the international stage.
“It is very important for me to know your opinion on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” he said, referring to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers by its formal name.
The accord – which the United States unilaterally abandoned in 2018 – is expected to be an important focus of the talks in Moscow as negotiators are currently engaged in intensive efforts to restore it in Vienna.
If the deal is restored, most US sanctions on Iran will be lifted and it will scale down its nuclear programme.
Putin also praised the two countries’ joint efforts in Syria, saying they have played a key role in “helping the Syrian government overcome the threats posed by international terrorism”.
The president also voiced concern over the situation in the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, saying he wishes to discuss the issue with Raisi.
Iran’s relations with the Eurasian Economic Union are on the rise, he said, adding that both sides are working to create a free trade zone.
‘Cooperation road map’
On the second day of his visit on Thursday, Raisi is expected to address the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, and also meet leading industry players and businesspeople.
In a tweet on Wednesday from Moscow, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said the presidents agreed to draw a long-term cooperation roadmap, adding that “the future world revolves around multilateralism”.
Amirabdollahian is accompanying Raisi along with Iran’s Petroleum Minister Javad Owji and Economy Minister Ehsan Khandoozi.
From Tehran, Iran’s security chief Ali Shamkhani said in a tweet that Iran is selling its oil and getting its money, something that has become “irreversible” and therefore the US cannot use its sanctions as leverage any more.