On November 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Iran for the first time since 2015. In a meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Putin voiced support for the nuclear deal and said that Russia objects to “any uniliteral change” to it. “We oppose linking Iran’s nuclear program with other issues including defensive issues.” President Donald Trump has criticized the agreement for not curtailing Iran’s ballistic missile program, which Iranian leaders have argued is defensive in nature.
Khamenei told Putin that enhanced Iran-Russia cooperation could help to isolate America and decrease its influence in the region. He proposed using national currencies in bilateral transactions to “nullify” the effect of U.S. sanctions. Putin and Iranian leaders also discussed Iran-Russia cooperation in supporting President Bashar al Assad in the Syria conflict. Putin said that the fight against terrorists there was going well.
The visit was timed to coincide with trilateral talks between Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan, primarily focused on improving road and rail connections between the Caspian Sea nations. Iran and Russia agreed to collaborate on “strategic” energy deals that would involve up to $30 billion in investments. Russia is eager to develop Iranian oil and gas fields. The following is a rundown of Putin’s visit.
Meeting with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
President Putin and Supreme Leader Khamenei met for about an hour and fifteen minutes. They discussed a wide range of issues, including the conflict in Syria, the nuclear deal, economic cooperation and more. The following are excerpted remarks by the leaders.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
"We must take advantage of useful experiences, during recent years, on regional issues and mutual relations to consolidate and develop our ties."
"In the transportation sector, we can expand cooperation, using the main axis of Chabahar port to the port of Saint-Petersburg, as well as in other economic areas.”
"The failure of the American alliance in support of terrorists in Syria is an undeniable fact, but they are still engaged in plotting and conspiracy. Thus, the full resolution of the Syrian issue needs sustained, firm cooperation."
Tehran & Moscow's proper resistance against terrorists' corruption in #Syria is very meaningful & has made Russia influential in West Asia.— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) November 1, 2017
All issues & solutions on Syrian govt. should emerge from inside #Syria, & Syrian govt. should not be pressured [from outside] at all.— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) November 1, 2017
"The Americans, unfortunately, continue their rebellion, which must be addressed by relying on reason and correct methods.”
"The Americans seek to interfere in all issues of the region and the world and to do so, they rely on weak authorities in other countries."
"They [Saudi Arabia] do not even allow medicine and aid to reach the oppressed Yemeni people, whom are plagued with deadly illnesses."
We can nullify US sanctions, isolate it by eliminating dollar, replacing it w/ national currencies in bi/multi-lateral economic transactions pic.twitter.com/pIH1Qz9hiq— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) November 1, 2017
That's why one can talk, logically cooperate w/ Russia, as a major power, on great works which demand resolution, efforts.— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) November 1, 2017
—Nov. 1, 2017, via Khamenei.ir
President Vladimir Putin
“We consider Iran a strategic partner and a great neighbor, and we will take advantage of every opportunity to expand and consolidate relationships in all dimensions.”
"We have achieved great results by our joint cooperation in Syria, and while the fight against terrorism should continue, a proper political process should be implemented in Syria."
"We showed the world that without the need for states outside of our region, we are able to solve our very important regional issues.”
"We believe that any transformation in any country, including Syria, must originate from within that country.”
"We are opposed to any unilateral change in the provisions of this multilateral agreement, and we consider unilateralism as a violation of the international law and system."
"We consider changing the core principles of the IAEA as inappropriate, and we disagree with linking Iran's nuclear program to other issues, including defense capabilities."
"The United States wants to interfere in all matters of the world and the region; and, to achieve its goal, if necessary, it even ignores the interests of its allies."
"I did not think, at all, that at this level of international relations, such behavior would arise, but now we are accustomed to this kind of American behavior."
"Some Russian producers and traders pray that the US sanctions wouldn’t end because as a result of them, their capacities have started to attract attention."
"From 2014, i.e. the start of U.S. sanctions, we devoted our funds to scientific and technological progress, and we had significant growth in the fields of biotechnology, IT, agriculture and space industries. Now, in spite of the initial concerns, we have realized that we can do whatever we decide to."
"We will adhere to our principled positions, and when we start work with anyone, we will continue until the very end."
—Nov. 1, 2017, via Khamenei.ir
Meeting with President Hassan Rouhani
Rouhani’s meeting with Putin largely focused on boosting economic ties and security cooperation in Syria. The following are excerpted remarks.
President Hassan Rouhani
“Good agreements between the two countries in various sectors, including in the energy, peaceful nuclear technologies and transportation and transit, have been made, which should be further stepped up in the implementation phase.”
“Tehran welcomes active participation of Russian investors and private sector to participate in major infrastructure projects, including in industry, energy, railway construction and development and the North-South Corridor.”
“The role of Russia in the direction of consolidation and sustainability of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and fulfilment of its obligations by all negotiating parties is also important," said the President, stressing that the JCPOA is multilateral agreement and its preservation is very important for regional and international peace and stability.”
“The cooperation between Iran and Russia has had a great impact on the process of fighting terrorism in the region, and these collaborations and consultations are also very important in the final stages of the fight.”
‘The Islamic Republic of Iran considers instability in the region detrimental to all countries, and will support the development of stability and security in the region. In the context of this cooperation, today it will become clear to the world that Syria's security and peace must be consolidated through political solutions.”
—Nov. 1, 2017, via President.ir
President Vladimir Putin
"We have many common interests for developing our relations and cooperation."
"The tripartite summit of Iranian, Russian and Azerbaijani presidents can lead to the development of relations and cooperation in the region in this field [transportation].”
"Not cohering to international obligations by some countries is by no means acceptable, and we believe that unilateral violation of the JCPOA will not be acceptable under any pretext.”
"The JCPOA is not related to Iran's defensive and missile issues.”
—Nov. 1, 2017, via President.ir
Trilateral Meeting of Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan
The presidents of Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan discussed ways to improve cooperation in a wide range of fields, including trade, transportation and security. The following is the joint statement signed by the three leaders with excerpted remarks Putin, Rouhani and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
"The parties point out the key role of the Russian Federation, the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Islamic Republic of Iran in the sustained functioning of regional and global energy markets, support the expansion of cooperation in the oil and gas as well as petrochemical sectors, including in the area of exploration and development of oil and gas fields, transport and swap deliveries of crude oil and petroleum products, as well as deepening cooperation on the international platforms.”
—Nov. 1, 2017, via APA
President Hassan Rouhani
In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
Your Excellency Mr Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, President of the Russian Federation;
Your Excellency Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
I sincerely thank you for accepting my invitation to attend this important meeting and welcome you to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Today, for the second time, we had this opportunity to hold a tripartite summit of presidents of Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan in Tehran. I am confident that today's meeting will be an important step in developing cooperation between the three countries, which has been developed more in recent years, and will create a clear vision for further consolidation and deepening of relations.
From our point of view, holding the first tripartite summit of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Azerbaijan in Baku and the firm determination of the heads of the three countries to hold the second round of the summit in Tehran, as a positive and valuable initiative, is an important opportunity to express views and pursue relations within the framework of common interests.
The development of comprehensive and sustainable relations with neighbouring countries is one of the most important priorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran's foreign policy. On the other hand, the Iranian economy, with its one-trillion-dollar growth potential over the next 20 years, can be one of the most promising emerging economies in the world. Therefore, widespread interaction with the world, especially with neighbouring countries, is our strategic policy for the realisation of growth, and in this framework, we welcome any ideas and mechanisms that will strengthen relations with the Russian Federation and the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared to deepen trilateral cooperation in various fields through interaction with the Russian Federation and the Republic of Azerbaijan. Historical ties and bonds along with cultural affiliations, natural and underground resources, geographic location, common approaches and political will in the leaders of the three countries have provide important areas for development of bilateral and trilateral relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Relations between Tehran and Moscow over the past years have had a positive trend in all areas. Cooperation and consultation of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation in resolving the nuclear issue of Iran, the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and continuation of peaceful nuclear cooperation, the fight against terrorism, the confrontation and management of the Syrian crisis, and the creation of the necessary conditions for the development of trade relations, including signing of several documents, such as the agreement for visa facilitation, customs cooperation, investment and cooperation in energy, transport, science and technology, has deepened the relations between the two sides and created a positive outlook for relations.
In recent years, Tehran and Baku have also taken good steps to develop relations, relying on being neighbours, mutual respect and mutual interests. The signing of the customs agreement, the electricity sale agreement, the agreement on connecting railway lines of the two countries, the construction of rail bridge on the border between the two sides are among the areas for development of trade and economic relations. Tehran has always called for the end of the Karabakh dispute in the region to resolve this issue by relying on mutual talks and diplomatic and peaceful solutions, and considers the recent meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders a positive step that can create stability and security.
From the point of view of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the tripartite interaction of Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan, beyond bilateral relations and in the form of a tripartite format, can not only develop and strengthen existing capacities between the three countries in various political, security, cultural and economic fields, but also by creating convergence, it can provide new opportunities to address the challenges of the region. It is obvious that such arrangements are not against any country or a third party and should be taken advantage of through a win-win approach.
The Caspian Sea is the focal point for cooperation between the three countries and the place for the interests and convergence of our nations. This sea, which has brought us more solidarity, has rich oil, gas and water reserves and is a wealth of resources for all of us. The Caspian Sea is a sea of peace and cooperation, and it should remain to have this function. The promotion of environmental cooperation in the Caspian Sea region is a common task and duty of all littoral states.
We believe that while continuing the development of existing cooperation between the parties and the necessity of implementing the previous agreements, especially the achievements of the first meeting in Baku, the three countries can cooperate in areas such as transportation and road, rail and maritime transit, developing the "North-South Corridor", customs cooperation, cooperation in the extraction, transfer and trading of oil and gas resources, coordination in the global energy market, cooperation in the construction of infrastructure, as well as trade in other energy resources, including joining the electricity network of the three countries to each other, cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, development of scientific and academic cooperation, technical cooperation, environmental cooperation, cooperation in banking interactions, and the use of national currencies. In this regard, it is necessary to set up and draft legal and political mechanisms for the promotion and implementation of this cooperation.
The development of tripartite negotiations between the ministers of foreign affairs, taking advantage of the capacity of parliamentary diplomacy and coordination at international parliamentary meetings, cooperation and consultation in international institutions, and holding of tripartite summits of Iranian, Russian and Azerbaijani security officials to discuss common threats are among the necessary arrangements for development of political relations between the three countries.
Faced with theoretical developments, especially in the two areas of unilateralism and extreme nationalism, the international community is increasingly concerned about the growth of these thoughts and its presence in international decision-making. The nationalist interpretation of international understandings and agreements, and making global developments power-centred creates the greatest dangers in the field of relations between countries. Exiting agreements and multilateral commitments and the extreme emphasis on power-centred unilateralism will set a dark future ahead of us. If this trend is to dominate the world, then it will not be possible to overcome violations of commitments, because in the current situation in the region and the world, for reasons such as the complexity of the security threats and the transboundary nature of these threats, as well as the capacity of regional integration in the development of peace and improving the level of security, development and prosperity, the cooperation of governments is inevitable, and the Islamic Republic of Iran, while believing in the necessity of interaction and cooperation between states, is seeking its interests in cooperation with others, especially with neighbouring countries and friends.
In addition to the need to take advantage of existing opportunities, holding such meetings and deepening the relations of the three countries can play an important role in dealing with common threats. We believe that complexity and transnational threats necessitate cooperation of governments to deal with them, and the recent developments in the region and the world are witness to the claim that through cooperation, interaction and understanding of mutual interests, it is possible to overcome many of the threats and challenges.
In the current era, challenges such as terrorism and extremism, destructive intervention of trans-national powers in the internal affairs of other countries, the political use of sanctioning instruments aimed at promoting illegitimate political goals, environmental problems, drug trafficking and the spread of transnational and cybercrime are among the common threats, for which cooperation and consultation of governments is the only way to manage and control. The Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes deepening of cooperation with the Russian Federation and the Republic of Azerbaijan in facing these challenges.
For the Islamic Republic of Iran, promoting security in the region is important in cooperation with other partners and in the fight against terrorist groups. It is also among our principles to emphasise political solutions to resolve various crises. This approach was considered in cooperation with the Russian government in facing with the Syrian crisis and we have been working to help establish peace and eliminate tensions in Syria through continuation of the Astana talks.
Also regarding the Iraqi issue, preserving territorial integrity and unity of the country and cooperation with its central government in the process of combatting terrorism are considered vital for us and we believe that coordination of other actors in this regard will be very important, because the lack of cooperation in these areas can have devastating consequences for all countries in the region.
In the end, I would like to thank the honourable Presidents and their delegations. I am confident that holding of this meeting will have an effective role in promoting regional cooperation and strengthening regional peace.
—Nov. 1, 2017, during the trilateral meeting, according to President.ir
“The summit of the Presidents of Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan is based on the friendship and neighbourhood of the three countries, and this friendship, closeness and geographical and cultural affinity, has made us more determined to make better use of the capacities of the three countries.”
"Within the framework of this transit route, we will connect north to south, and our decision is to connect Bandar Abbas to Helsinki, connecting Asia to Europe and our route is through Azerbaijan, Russia and Eastern and Northern Europe.”
"We also want to deepen relations in the field of road and maritime connections.”
"Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan, with huge reserves of oil and gas and the good position in the region and the world, should have their own technological cooperation for the production and extraction of oil and gas in this region as well as joint investments in energy and other fields.”
"Our electricity needs to be connected so that we can use electricity of the three countries at different times.”
"Closer relations and the role of the three countries in the stability and security of the region, in particular the fight against terrorism, were discussed at the meeting.”
"It is important for Iran and Russia to cooperate in the establishment of stability and security, and in the fight against terrorism, especially in Syria, and the tripartite cooperation of Iran, Turkey and Russia, which is being pursued in Astana.”
"At the summit, all three countries emphasized regional cooperation for regional peace and stability and the fight against terrorism, drugs and organized crime.”
—Nov. 1, 2017, at a press conference following the meeting
President Vladimir Putin
For my part, I would like to express satisfaction with the results of our joint work. I would like to thank the leadership of Iran for the invitation and Tehran residents for the patience they showed during our movements around the city. We saw how difficult this was.
But I hope that our work today was not in vain. We really discussed very important issues of the trilateral format, and I am convinced that working in an open and genial manner with a shared striving to achieve positive results will bring benefits to our countries, states and people.
We discussed important issues related to stability and fighting crime and terrorism, but economic matters were our primary focus. My colleagues have already spoken about this, and I do not wish to be repetitive.
I would merely like to add that this very important North-South transport corridor has already gone through a test run. Last year supplies from India via Iran travelled to Russia and beyond. This route has proved its economic expediency and efficiency.
It is well known that Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan are large hydrocarbon producers, but this does not mean we should compete. This means that we should coordinate our efforts.
Incidentally, coordination within OPEC has already produced positive results, and this would have been impossible if this work had not been joined by countries that are not part of this cartel. The same is taking place in the organisation of gas producers. We are cooperating in this area too and will continue to do so.
I would like to point out that despite large-scale production of hydrocarbons in each of our countries, there is, strange as it may seem, interest in supplying hydrocarbon to each other, having in mind the internal logistics.
For instance, we confirm our readiness to deliver gas to the north of Iran via the pipeline system in Azerbaijan, which may make economic sense for our partners.
We spoke about developing relations in other sectors. We believe humanitarian cooperation is very important: in education, medicine, contacts between the regions of our countries, and cultural ties.
Needless to say, and my colleagues also spoke about this, all of us are Caspian states. I hope we will soon finalize all the parameters of our agreements on the Caspian issues and status, which should be signed in the near future.
Bilateral talks were also held during today’s visit. I often meet with the President of Azerbaijan too. We compared notes on several of the most important questions, noted the growth of bilateral trade and discussed promising areas of our cooperation.
I talked with President Rouhani about bilateral contacts, including economic ties in the power industry, transport engineering and agriculture. I also had a very detailed conversation with the Supreme Leader of Iran. It was very substantive and very useful.
In both cases, we discussed in detail security in the region, issues linked with Iran’s nuclear programme, and, of course, the situation in Syria.
I would like to note that our work with Iran is very productive. We manage to coordinate our positions on Syria-related problems.
Owing to our joint efforts and the efforts of Turkey the fight against terrorism in Syria is proceeding very well. The negotiating process in Astana is producing positive results. The latest round of talks has just been successfully completed there.
There are plenty of issues and none of them can be resolved unilaterally. No one side, no one country can resolve this problem on its own.
We are hoping for further productive cooperation with our Iranian partners and friends, and I give high marks to the results of today’s visit.
I would like to thank the President for the atmosphere that was created during today’s work.
Thank you for your attention.
—Nov. 1, 2017, at a press conference following the meeting
President Ilham Aliyev
President Putin, ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank Mr Rouhani for his hospitality. I am happy to be here again, in this brotherly country.
Today Mr Rouhani, President Putin and I held meetings to discuss the further development of our relations. They are developing well and are at a high level.
As for the trilateral format of cooperation, as you know, the first summit took place in August 2016 in Baku at Azerbaijan’s initiative. This summit shows that this format is successful and has a good future.
Trilateral cooperation is quite natural because our peoples share a common history and geography. For centuries, they have enjoyed close ties with each other. The trilateral format is very important for regional security and I think that our successful cooperation plays a big role in providing stability and security in the region.
Of course, we are also united by a series of economic and infrastructure projects, and Mr Rouhani touched upon this in his speech. Azerbaijan is the world’s only country that has land borders both with Iran and Russia. This position is, of course, favourable for successful cooperation in all areas.
Important events have happened since the previous summit, although it has only been slightly over a year. Agreements that we reached last year are being implemented, especially those in the economy; we heard some statistics about it today. This year, our trade with Russia grew by over 60 percent and with Iran by 30 percent; last year it grew by over 70 percent. This shows that the three countries share very sincere, friendly relations, and this is much appreciated by businesses.
In addition, the growing trade testifies to the successful development of our economy, and the sharp drop in oil prices did not affect our economy in particular.
In addition, in the period since the previous summit, Azerbaijan has improved its railway infrastructure, having built a railway to the border with Iran. The first train passed through the Azerbaijani-Iranian border this March.
At present, the Azerbaijani section in the North-South transport corridor is fully ready for exploitation. Let the media know about it. An agreement has already been reached on the financing of the railway. The document has been initialled. After these procedures are implemented, this issue will also find a solution.
As for the oil and gas sector, we have a long history of cooperation in this area. Since all three countries contribute to energy security, they also play a significant role in stabilising oil prices. We can see that the OPEC countries and non-member countries are cooperating in earnest, and as a result of this cooperation prices have reached an acceptable level.
We have connected electricity lines with both Iran and Russia, and a good basis for regional cooperation is being laid. A lot of issues have been resolved in the past year. And as a result of the agreements reached today, I hope that by the next summit we will achieve good results and inform the public about them. Our cooperation is natural, sincere, based on friendship, mutual respect, and, of course, is of great importance for the region.
The current summit was held at a high level, for which I would like to express my gratitude once again to Mr Rouhani.
—Nov. 1, 2017, at a press conference following the meeting
Russia’s state oil company, Rosneft, and the National Iranian Oil Company signed a roadmap agreement on implementing “strategic” projects in Iran with total investments worth up to $30 billion, according to Rosneft head Igor Sechin. The output from the joint projects was projected to plateau at 55 million tons per year or 1.1 million barrels per day. Details on how the investments would be split between the two companies were not disclosed.