Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran to discuss efforts to counter terrorism, drug trafficking

Trump’s short-sighted stance on Iran leaves the door open for China

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed support for the Iran nuclear deal on an official visit to Tehran on Wednesday, in what Iran's leadership has interpreted as a rejection of USA policy.

The nuclear deal is "working effectively", and deserves support from all member states of the United Nations, Putin said in a joint statement Wednesday with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Azeri leader Ilham Aliyev after a three-way summit in Tehran. "Active cooperation has been maintained within the Gas Exporting Countries Forum", where Russian Federation and Iran are the organization's members, while Azerbaijan is an observer. Our cooperation can isolate the United States.

Today's talks will also focus on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which saw sanctions lifted in exchange for limits on Tehran's atomic programme and which is under pressure from US President Donald Trump.

Pragmatist Iranian President Hassan Rouhani echoed Khamenei, saying Iran and Russian Federation together could tackle "regional terrorism" - an allusion to Sunni Muslim armed groups hostile to Iran, Assad and many other Arab states.




Iran and Russian Federation are the main allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while the United States, Turkey and most Arab states support rebel groups fighting to overthrow him. Putin praised cooperation with Iran as "very productive". "But the issues of economic nature are at the forefront, of course", Putin said.

At the summit, Rouhani said interaction between the three countries helps promote regional cooperation and stability, adding that Iran "welcomes any idea and mechanism that could strengthen relations among Tehran, Moscow and Baku". On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized "unpredictable" USA behavior, citing the refusal to uphold the Iranian agreement and threats to use force to resolve the crisis on the Korean peninsula. The host nation believes this will show that U.S. approval is not needed for regional cooperation.

The Russian leader called for more cooperation on the oil and gas markets, adding that his country was ready to export gas to northern Iran via Azerbaijan.

The deal appeared to dovetail with Putin's strategy to reassert Russian political and economic influence in the Middle East that faded after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

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