Putin in Tehran to Discuss Syria, Boost Ties

On November 23, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Tehran for talks with Iranian leaders on the Syrian crisis, the fight against ISIS and implementing the nuclear deal. Putin’s visit, his first in eight years, was timed to coincide with an international gas summit. Presidential aid Yuri Ushakov said that Russian and Iranian leaders were to discuss “all topical issues of bilateral cooperation - trade and investment cooperation, nuclear energy, oil and gas production, military and technical cooperation.”
Putin reportedly went directly from the airport to meet with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Syrian conflict was a main topic of discussion. “No one outside of Syria can and should impose on its people some forms of government and who personally must govern it. This should only be decided by the Syrian people,” said Putin. Russian presidential press officer Dmitry Peskov said the meeting lasted more than 1.5 hours. “The meeting participants had a very detailed exchange of opinions, it was emphasized that Moscow and Tehran agree on the unacceptability of dictating political settlement options from the outside and that there is no alternative to the implementation of this political method by the people of Syria,” said Peskov.  

Moscow and Tehran have stepped up coordination in Syria since Russia launched an air campaign against forces opposed to the Bashar al Assad’s regime, including the so-called Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Both Russia and Iran support Assad’s government and oppose Sunni jihadist movements.

While in Tehran, Putin also signed a decree lifting the ban on supplying Iran with uranium enrichment equipment for its nuclear program. Russia has said it will help Iran export surplus enriched uranium and send raw uranium in exchange. It will also help Iran modify nuclear facilities at Arak and Fordo as part of implementing the nuclear deal reached in July 2015. Iran has committed to reduce its low-enriched uranium stockpile by some 98 percent to 300 kg for 15 years. 

The supreme leader’s remarks from his meeting with Putin were published in the following string of tweets on his official account. Putin's remarks are below. 

President Vladimir Putin 
“The expansion of the two countries’ relations, including in [the areas of] technology, aerospace, and advanced technologies has been enjoying a faster pace, and we are very happy to have a very active cooperation with the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran on [issues of] security and the resolution of regional and global crises.” 
“We are committed that, unlike some, never stab our partners from the back and we would never act against our friends behind the scenes. Even if we have a difference, we would reach an agreement through dialogue.” 
“As Your Excellency [the Leader of the Islamic Revolution] stated, Americans want to bring to the negotiating table what they could not achieve in the battlefields of Syria, and we are cautious of this issue.” 
“Our cooperation in solving crises is very visible. Our views are very similar. A solution needs to be found that satisfies all religious and political forces in Syria. Nobody can or should force upon the Syrian people certain structures of power, state, or leaders from outside. That can only be decided by the Syrian people.”
“Nobody has the right to impose his views on the Syrian people and decide on their behalf on the government system and the destiny of the Syrian president.” 
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is an independent and solid strong country with very good prospects, and we see you as a trustworthy and reliable ally in the region and the world.”
—Nov. 23, 2015, in a meeting with Supreme Leader Khamenei via Tehran Times, Fars News and France 24
Putin then addressed the third Gas Exporting Countries Forum. 
Later in the day, President Hassan Rouhani and President Putin signed seven memoranda of understanding. Russia and Iran agreed to facilitate travel for their citizens to either country. The other memoranda were related to health, railways, banking and insurance, power generation and transmission, and groundwater exploration. They also held a joint press conference.
President Hassan Rouhani
“For many years, Iran and Russia have had good relations in the field of nuclear energy and today these relations will develop.”
“A lot of investment opportunities in different economic areas such as energy, oil and gas, electricity, railways, and infrastructure projects are ahead of the private and public sectors of both countries and by using them, Tehran-Moscow ties will cement more than before.”
“We have also decided to expand the already-existing cooperation on regional issues.”
“The available opportunities will certainly provide the basis for further collaboration in line with taking more serious steps to benefit the two nations as well as the region.”
—Nov. 23, 2015, in a joint press conference
President Vladimir Putin
“Good talks were conducted with ministers, heads of key organizations and institutes after the discussions with Iran’s Supreme Leader.”
“Various aspects of bilateral relations were discussed at the meetings including economy as well as the fight against terrorism.”
“We plan to make a list of goods required by both sides and further to use national currencies in payments between the two countries.”
“We discussed Russia’s plan to allocate a credit line worth five billion dollars to Iran as well. 25 priority projects in various fields particularly in energy, construction, manufacturing of marine terminals as well as communications will be carried out by Iran and Russia.”
“We saw that a large set of documents, which is supposed to stimulate cooperation in various spheres, was signed just now. We shall pay necessary attention to diversification of commodity nomenclature, [and] make greater use of national currencies in bilateral payments.”

“Currently, the construction of Bushehr nuclear power plant has been accomplished and we intend to begin phases two and three of the project.”

“We are planning to design a road map for the Iranian nuclear issue and will help with the conversion of enriched uranium and the production of stable isotopes.”

“Iran and Russia will pursue cooperation for finding a political solution to the Syrian issue.”
—Nov. 23, 2015, in a joint press conference