Accessibility links

Kremlin: Putin, Khamenei Agree On Syria

  • RFE/RL

Iran's supreme leader has praised Moscow's regional role -- particularly in Syria -- as "effective" during a meeting with the Russian president in Tehran on November 23.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also criticized U.S. policies as a threat to both Iran and Russia, saying that Washington has a "long-term plan" to dominate Syria and the whole region.

"This is a threat to all countries, especially Russia and Iran," Khamenei told Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting on the sidelines of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) Summit in Tehran, according to Iranian media.

"This threat should be neutralized wisely and with closer interaction,” Khamenei was quoted as saying.

On his first trip to Iran since 2007, Putin went straight into a meeting with Khamenei, during which he presented the supreme leader with a copy of an ancient manuscript of the Koran.

Describing the November 23 meeting as "constructive," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow and Tehran were against "external attempts to dictate scenarios of political settlement in Syria."

Iran's state news agency IRNA reported that Khamenei called Putin an "outstanding figure in today's world" while praising Russia's stance in resolving Tehran's standoff with global powers over its controversial nuclear program, which many had feared was aimed at producing atomic weapons.

“The issue came to a conclusion, but we have no trust in the Americans," Khamenei said.

Iranian media quoted Putin as saying that Russia considered the Islamic republic to be "a reliable and dependable ally."

“We’re committed not to stab our partners in the back unlike others, and we also don’t do anything against our friends behind closed doors," Putin was quoted as saying by Iranian news agencies.

Khamenei also said that Iranian and Russian authorities were serious about expanding ties.

"The level of cooperation, including on the economic front, can be developed further from the current level," Khamenei said.

Russia and Iran, which have been the key backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the country's civil war, have dismissed calls by the United States and its allies for the Syrian leader's ouster.

Khamenei was quoted on November 23 as saying that Assad was elected by Syrians from various "political, religious, and ethnic" backgrounds and that America cannot ignore Syrians' votes.

Russia has claimed to be targeting Islamic State militants in its month-long air campaign in Syria, but has been accused of striking U.S.-trained, anti-Assad groups. Iran, meanwhile, has sent military advisors to shore up the Syrian president.

Putin was quoted as saying that Russian air strikes in Syria would continue as long as necessary to punish those guilty of blowing up a Russian airliner over Egypt last month that resulted in the deaths of 224 people.

After his meeting with Khamenei, Putin attended the opening of the gas summit hosted by Iranian President Hassan Rohani.

The one day summit was attended by a number of senior officials, including the leaders of Venezuela, Bolivia, Nigeria, and Turkmenistan.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Putin, Rohani said that Iran and Russia will expand their cooperation against terrorism.

"Unlike those who speak about fighting terrorism and take [only] symbolic actions, Iran and Russia have demonstrated that they are serious in fighting terrorism," Rohani was quoted as saying by Iranian media.

He added that Tehran was also seeking greater cooperation with Moscow in other sectors.

"There are a lot of projects in the oil and gas sector and electricity that we can work on together," Rohani told reporters.

"We also discussed expanding banking relations as one of the pillars of our mutual ties."

IRNA reported that the two sides had signed seven memorandums of understanding and cooperation.

Putin said there are plans to create a free trade zone between the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and Iran. He also said Moscow and Tehran intend to increase the use of national currencies in bilateral trade.

With reporting by Interfax, AFP, Reuters, IRNA, and Fars