MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a visit to Tehran on Monday, the Kremlin said, as Moscow goes on a diplomatic push over the Syria conflict.
Talks with Iran’s leadership will focus on “issues in bilateral relations, including atomic energy, oil and gas and military-technical cooperation”, Putin’s top foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov said on Friday, with the Russian president also set to meet his counterpart Hassan Rouhani.
After the visit to Tehran — Putin’s first there since 2007 — the Russian leader will host Jordanian King Abdullah II on Tuesday and French leader Francois Hollande on Thursday in Russia.
Russia and Iran are both militarily backing forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with Moscow flying a bombing campaign and Iran believed to command thousands of troops on the ground.
Putin has stepped up his push for a broader coalition of countries to fight IS militants in Syria after confirming this week the bombing of a Russian passenger jet over Egypt and following last week’s bloody attacks in Paris.
The Kremlin strongman is also looking to strengthen business ties with Iran as Russian firms eye lucrative opportunities after the landmark nuclear deal that Tehran struck with world powers in July.
Despite earlier reports in the Russian press that Putin could host the Saudi Arabia’s King Salman in Russia for a meeting soon, Ushakov said that the two sides were eyeing a possible date next year after the leaders spoke at the G20 summit in Turkey.
Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2015