Presidents Vladimir Putin, Ebrahim Raisi and Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Tehran
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke Tuesday in Iran with the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during what constituted his second trip abroad since the start of the offensive in Ukraine on February 24.
In the wake of US President Joe Biden's trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia, this visit underlines with the West the will of Moscow to establish closer strategic relations with Tehran, but also with China and India, to face the Western sanctions imposed against Russia linked to his invasion of Ukraine.
The bilateral meeting between Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan – the Russian President's first meeting with a leader of a NATO country since the start of the war – was intended in particular to discuss an agreement in front of allow the resumption of grain exports to the Black Sea.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called for long-term cooperation between Iran and Russia, telling Vladimir Putin that both countries must remain vigilant against Western trickery, Iranian state television, which broadcast images of the meeting between the Supreme Leader, the Russian President and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
Vladimir Putin pledged that Russia would preserve its independence from the United States and said he supported the use of national currencies rather than the US dollar in commodity trade, Ali Khamenei added. The US dollar must be gradually withdrawn from global trade, the Iranian Supreme Leader has said.
While he said he regretted the suffering of ordinary people caused by the war in Ukraine, Ali Khamenei believed that Russia had only a margin of reduced maneuver. If you hadn't taken the initiative, the other side [the West] would have started a war on its own, he told Vladimir Putin.
For Tehran, the Kremlin chief's visit comes at a good time, as Iran is also targeted by Western economic sanctions and in conflict with the United States over its nuclear program and other issues.
Iran's leaders are keen to strengthen ties with Moscow as a bloc between Israel and Gulf countries looms with Washington maneuvering, a prospect that could reduce the Tehran's regional influence.
Iran hopes that Russia's support will allow it to win concessions from the United States in talks to revive the 2015 deal on its nuclear program.
However, the steady rapprochement between Russia and China in recent months has caused the decline of Iranian crude exports to China – a major source of revenue for Iran since the reinstatement of US sanctions in 2018, when the government #x27;Former US President Donald Trump denounced the Iran nuclear deal.
Moscow and Tehran strengthened their cooperation in the economic field with the signing, before the x27;arrival of Vladimir Putin in Iran, a memorandum of understanding between the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC, or National Iranian Petroleum Company) and the Russian giant Gazprom for an amount of nearly 40 billion dollars.
According to the Shana Agency, an information channel of the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum, which revealed this agreement, Gazprom will help NIOC to develop the exploitation of several oil and gas fields and will participate in development projects. #x27;infrastructure in the energy sector.
The Russian, Turkish and Iranian presidents before their press conference that concluded their meeting in Tehran.
Another important issue discussed in Tehran, in the context of trilateral talks with Recep Tayyip Erdogan: the conflict in Syria. Turkey's president has threatened to launch a new military offensive in northern Syria to expand safe areas along the border by 30 kilometers, but Russia and Iran oppose such a move .
Maintaining Syria's integrity is critical, and any military attack in northern Syria will inevitably be damaging to Turkey, Syria and the entire region, and will only benefit terrorists, Ali Khamenei told Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Russia and Iran are the main supporters of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, while Turkey supports some opponents of the regime in Damascus while considering Kurdish fighters as terrorists linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) .
Vladimir Putin, who will celebrate his 70th birthday this year, has limited his travels abroad in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then the war in Ukraine. His previous trip out of the region was in February, to China. He had, however, visited Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in June.
Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed on Tuesday that Turkey's mediation had enabled a breakthrough on grain exports that kyiv accuses Russia of blocking.
In the evening, however, Mr. Putin cast doubt on these advances, linking the export of Ukrainian agricultural production to a lifting of Western restrictions on Russian cereals. We will facilitate the export of Ukrainian cereals, but on the basis that all restrictions on air deliveries for the export of Russian cereals are lifted, said the Russian president, after the talks .
In addition, the European Commission has offered member states to release some Russian bank funds frozen by European Union (EU) sanctions to help trade resume agricultural and food products, including wheat and fertilizers, according to a document seen by AFP on Tuesday.
The EU wants to make it crystal clear that nothing in the sanctions is stopping the movement of grain out of Russia or Ukraine, a source told AFP a European diplomat on condition of anonymity.
Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations must sign by the end of the week an agreement to allow the resumption of grain exports from Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea, hitherto subject to a Russian blockade.
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