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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Putin in Tehran to hold talks with leaders of Iran, Turkey

Nasser Karimi and Vladimir ISACHENKOV. By

TEHRAN, Iran ( Associated Press) — Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Iran on Tuesday with the intention of deepening ties with regional giants as part of Moscow’s challenge to the United States and Europe amid his peace campaign in Ukraine.

In his second overseas visit since Russian tanks rolled down his neighboring countries in February, Putin asked Iran’s President Ibrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to resume conflict in Syria and the region, including a proposal to restart UN-backed exports. meeting on the issues facing the of Ukrainian grain to ease the global food crisis.

As the West imposes sanctions on Russia and the costly campaign continues, Putin is seeking to strengthen ties with Tehran, a fellow target of severe US sanctions and a potential military and trade partner. The White House has alleged that in recent weeks, Russian officials visited an airfield in central Iran at least twice to review Tehran’s weapons-capable drones for possible use in Ukraine.

Iran rolled out a long red carpet for Putin at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport, where Iranian Oil Minister Javad Ovzi gave him a warm welcome before moving on to his presidential convoy in the city.

But perhaps most importantly, the Tehran visit gives Putin the opportunity to hold a high-stakes meeting with Erdogan, who has sought to help broker talks on a peaceful resolution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, as well as to sell Ukrainian grain. Conversations to unblock have helped. Black Sea.

NATO member Turkey has found itself opposite Russia in bloody conflicts in Azerbaijan, Libya and Syria. It has also sold lethal drones that the Ukrainian military has used to attack Russian troops. But Turkey has not imposed sanctions on the Kremlin, making it a much-needed partner for Moscow. Turkey is also dependent on the Russian market, battling runaway inflation and a rapidly depreciating currency.

The gathering has symbolic meaning even for Putin’s domestic audience, showing Russia’s international clout even as it becomes increasingly isolated and deepened in confrontation with the West. It comes just days after US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia – Tehran’s primary rivals.

From Jerusalem and Jeddah, Biden urged Israel and Arab countries to push back Russian, Chinese and Iranian influence, which has expanded with the perception of a US withdrawal from the region.

It was a tough sell. Israel maintains good relations with Putin, a necessity given the Russian presence in Syria, Israel’s northeastern neighbor and its frequent target of air strikes. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have refused to pump more oil beyond the plan approved by their energy alliance with Moscow.

But all countries – despite their long-standing rivalry – can agree on coming closer to counter Iran, which has rapidly stepped up its nuclear program as former US President Donald Trump sided with world powers. Abandoned Tehran’s nuclear deal and reimposed crushing sanctions. Negotiations to restore the deal have come to a standstill.

Backed in a corner by the West and its regional rivals, the Iranian government is ramping up uranium enrichment, cracking down on dissent and making headlines with an optimistic, hard-hitting stance intended to keep the Iranian currency, the rial, from crashing . Without sanctions relief, Iran’s strategic partnership with Russia has become one of survival, even as Moscow undercuts Tehran in the black market oil trade.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirbadullahian wrote on Twitter: “Iran is the center of dynamic diplomacy.”

Fadahosin Maleki, a member of the Iranian parliament’s influential committee on national security and foreign policy, on Monday described Russia as Iran’s “most strategic partner”. His comments sparked decades of animosity stemming from Russia’s occupation of Iran during World War II – and subsequently refused to leave.

After his arrival, Putin held talks with Raisi, followed by meetings in Moscow in January and again in Turkmenistan last month. During his fifth visit to Tehran, Putin will also meet with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in what Kremlin foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov called a “credible dialogue”.

“Our relations are developing at a good pace,” Putin said at the beginning of the meeting with Raisi, noting that Moscow and Tehran “strengthen their cooperation on international security and make important contributions to the Syrian agreement.”

Raisi expressed the hope that Putin’s visit would help enhance cooperation on regional and international issues.

The focus of subsequent tripartite talks between the presidents will be the decades-old conflict in Syria, where Iran and Russia backed President Bashar Assad’s government, while Turkey backed armed opposition factions. Russia intervened in the conflict in 2015, pooling efforts with Iranian forces and using its air power to shore up Assad’s fledgling army.

Ushakov said the parties will discuss efforts to encourage a political settlement, while Erdogan is expected to take on Turkey’s threats of a new military offensive in northern Syria to drive out US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters from its borders . The operation is part of Turkey’s plan to create a safe zone along its border with Syria that would encourage the voluntary return of Syrian refugees.

In a meeting with Erdogan, Khamenei issued a stern warning against the planned Turkish incursion.

“Any military strike in northern Syria will certainly harm Turkey, Syria and the entire region and benefit terrorists,” Iran’s top leader said.

Iran and Turkey signed preliminary agreements covering investment, diplomacy, media and trade in other sectors, and pledged to triple bilateral trade, to $30 billion.

In his speech, Erdogan called for solidarity in the fight against Kurdish terrorist groups as well as a network led by a US-based Muslim cleric that Ankara accused of a failed coup in 2016.

“They are nuisances that disrupt the peace of the countries where they exist,” he said. “We have to continue to lead the struggle against them.”

Humanitarian issues in Syria have also come into focus as Russia used its veto power at the UN Security Council last week to cut aid delivery to 4.1 million people in the Syrian rebel-held northwest after six months instead of a year. had to be banned.

Negotiations to lift the Russian blockade and bring Ukrainian grain to global markets are also on the agenda. Last week, UN, Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish officials reached a tentative agreement on some aspects of the deal to ensure the export of 22 million tonnes of grain and other agricultural products stuck in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports because of the fighting.

Tuesday’s meeting between Putin and Erdogan could help clear remaining hurdles, a major step toward easing a food crisis that has pushed up the prices of important commodities such as wheat and barley.


Isachenkov reported from Moscow. Associated Press writers Isabel Debre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Suzanne Fraser in Ankara, Turkey contributed.


Follow Associated Press’s coverage of the fighting in Ukraine https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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