Putin Raisi
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) speaks with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (R) during their meeting in Moscow on January 19, 2022. (Pavel BEDNYAKOV / SPUTNIK / AFP)

Putin and Iran’s Raisi discuss bilateral ties in Moscow

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Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi in Moscow on Wednesday (Jan. 19). The meeting with Putin was the first since the Iranian politician took office in August, and the first official visit by an Iranian president to Russia since 2017.

“We handed over to our Russian colleagues a document on strategic cooperation between our countries which can determine prospects for at least 20 years,” Tass news agency quoted Raisi as saying. According to the Iranian president, “the current level of trade and economic relations [between Iran and Russia] is not satisfactory.” “We can increase the level of our trade and economic cooperation by several times,” Raisi added.

Putin praised the countries’ “close cooperation” on the international stage and said: “It is very important for me to know your opinion on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).”

Signed in 2015 by Iran and several world powers— the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China, and Germany — the JCPOA placed significant restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling international sanctions.

But the unilateral US withdrawal from the agreement in 2018 under former president Donald Trump who claimed the JCPOA failed to curtail Iran’s missile program and regional influence prompted Tehran to walk back on its commitments.

Talks to restore the accord began again last year but stopped in June, when Iran elected Raisi, a conservative cleric who has indicated that he will take a harder line than his predecessor Hassan Rouhani, in nuclear negotiations.

The talks resumed in November. Washington and Tehran have both said they would return to the original deal but they disagree on the steps to get there.

Moscow and Tehran have strong political, economic and military ties, shared interests in Afghanistan, and are key allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad, helping his government reclaim most of the country’s territory after his country‘s decade-long civil war.

On Thursday (Jan 20) Raisi is expected to speak at Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma and at the Moscow Cathedral Mosque.

With reporting by TASS, AFP, The Times of Israel