Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in the Iranian capital Tehran on Wednesday for a visit seen by the Islamic republic’s leadership as a clear rejection of US policy.
Putin was set to meet his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rowhani, who was expecting a statement of approval from the Russian leader on the 2015 nuclear agreement that obliges Iran to cut back its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.
US President Donald Trump has refused to confirm whether his government will comply with the agreement and has threatened a harder line on Iran, which the US suspects has been seeking to build a nuclear bomb. Trump has also not ruled out an outright cancellation of the deal.
Rowhani, also scheduled to meet with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, was expected to discuss strengthening economic ties with the leaders. The host nation believes this will show that US approval is not needed for regional cooperation.
“No one is paying attention to the Americans’ rhetoric,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Rahimpur said Tuesday. Putin’s visit is also expected to involve discussions about Iran’s cooperation with Russia in the ongoing Syrian conflict.
Both Tehran and Moscow currently support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and are fighting together against the Islamic State terrorist group. The two countries are in favour of new elections in Syria, albeit with al-Assad’s participation.
In terms of economics, the Tehran meeting will primarily look at “new avenues of trade,” Rahimpur told Iran’s ISNA news agency. Iran could gain access to European markets via the Black Sea, while Russia and Azerbaijan could reach Arab markets through the Gulf.