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Iran says pushing 'strategic ties' with Russia as presidents meet 

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi (L) and his Russian counterpart meet on the sidelines of a summit of the Caspian nations in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on Wednesday, June 29, 2021.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi has told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that Tehran pursues engagement with Moscow within the framework of a strategic relationship. 

The two presidents met Wednesday evening in Turkmenistan's capital, Ashgabat, where they had traveled to participate at the sixth summit of the Caspian littoral states.

"Relations between the two countries in the field of trade and energy cooperation are at a high level, but given the existing fields in the two countries, these ties still have great potential for expansion," President Raeisi said in remarks quoted by IRNA news agency.

The Iranian president paid a two-day visit to Moscow at the head of a delegation in January and met Putin. He described the visit as a "turning point" in bilateral relations between the two countries, saying they could boost their security and trade through maintaining close dialogue.  

"After my visit to Russia, several reciprocal visits have been made by the relevant officials in order to follow up on the agreements between the two countries, and the implementation process of these agreements is at a good pace," President Raeisi said on Wednesday.

Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Tehran where he met President Raeisi, confiding that Moscow was adapting to what he called the West's aggressive policies.

"In all the countries experiencing the negative influence of the selfish line taken by the United States and its satellites, there arises the objective need to reconfigure their economic relations so they can avoid relying on the whims and vagaries of our Western partners," Lavrov said.

Last month Moscow said Russia and Iran, which are both under Western sanctions and sit on some of the world’s largest oil and gas reserves, had discussed swapping supplies for oil and gas as well as establishing a logistics hub.

On Wednesday, President Raeisi stressed the need for the two countries to support strengthening of the North-South corridor, saying Iran and Russia have also good capacities for cooperation in the field of energy, including swaps.

The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is a multimode network of sea and rail routes that links the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to Iran, India, Russia and North Europe.

The Iranian president also stressed the need for mechanisms to strengthen banking and monetary relations between Iran and Russia, stating that financial exchanges between the two countries should be carried out within an independent framework outside the Western financial exchange system so that no country can manipulate it for pressure.

President Putin expressed his satisfaction with meeting his Iranian counterpart again, saying trade and economic relations between the two countries have increased in recent months, adding the path must continue.

The Russian leader also welcomed President Raeisi's proposal to increase energy cooperation between the two countries, including swaps.

Putin also asked the Iranian president to convey his warm greetings to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

The two countries have been working to sign a new and improved long-term bilateral cooperation agreement.

Iranian officials have said they have been making headways on banking cooperation, most importantly on foreign currency transfers.

Bilateral trade surged 80% percent last year, hitting a record high of $4 billion, including $1 billion in Iranian exports, deputy minister of industry, mining and trade Alireza Peyman-Pak has said.


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