Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has arrived in Moscow for a two-day official visit to discuss regional issues and matters of mutual interest with his Russian counterpart and other senior Russian officials.
Heading a high-ranking politico-economic delegation, Rouhani arrived at Moscow’s Vnukovo International Airport on the official invitation of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, Monday evening.
The Russian president is scheduled to officially welcome his Iranian counterpart at the Kremlin on Tuesday.
During his stay in Moscow, Rouhani is scheduled to hold meetings with the Russian president and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The two sides will discuss various bilateral issues and the latest developments in the region.
The two presidents are also expected to issue a statement following their meeting.
Iran and Russia will also sign 15 agreements to boost cooperation between the two countries in different economic, judicial and diplomatic fields.
Speaking to reporters in Tehran on Monday before setting off for Moscow, Rouhani said the expansion of relations between Iran and Russia, especially in the field of energy, will serve the interests of the two countries and the entire Middle East region.
“Relations between Iran and Russia and any growth in these ties will be beneficial to both nations and regional stability and we enjoy good cooperation with each other at international level,” Rouhani said, adding that Tehran-Moscow ties “have never been and will never be against any third country.”
Pointing to “close” international cooperation between the two countries, he commended Russia’s great role in the signing and implementation of the 2015 landmark nuclear agreement – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCOPA) – between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 group of countries.
Russia has provided great assistance to Iran for transfer of yellowcake and heavy water in and out of Iran, respectively, Rouhani said, adding, “We will witness more good developments related to nuclear issues with Russia.”
Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China -- plus Germany signed the JCPOA on July 14, 2015 and started implementing it on January 16, 2016.
Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.
The Iranian chief executive added that Tehran and Moscow were closely cooperating on regional issues, including fighting against terrorism and promoting stability.
“The two countries are also opposed to any shift in geographical borders in the region,” he said, adding that Iran and Russia have the highest level of cooperation on the crisis in Syria, the campaign against terrorism and the establishment of stability in the Middle East.
Rouhani stated that the “Bushehr nuclear power plant and defense ties” were among the symbols of Tehran-Moscow cooperation, noting that the two sides could turn scientific and cultural interactions into a “new symbol” of the relations.
Rouhani further pointed to “good potentialities” present in the economic sector for expansion of cooperation between Tehran and Moscow and further development of bilateral ties and said, “Both countries are oil producers in the region but can have constructive ties instead of unhealthy competition.”
He said the two sides had begun cooperation with regard to Russia’s investment in Iran’s oil and gas sectors, noting, “Cooperation has started [between Tehran and Moscow] to facilitate Russia's investment in Iran, especially in oil and gas [sector]. We have proposed some sectors to the Russian side [for investment] and we will witness major developments in the energy sector.”
The Iranian president emphasized that Tehran and Moscow had good opportunities to bolster cooperation on bilateral, regional and international developments.
Rouhani and Putin have held eight meetings over the past four years. Tehran and Moscow enjoy strategic relations with senior delegations from the two countries regularly exchanging visits.
The two presidents have also held several phone conversations and discussed the available avenues for the continuation of bilateral cooperation on the crisis in Syria and the fight against international terrorism.
Iran-Russia to enhance fight against terrorism: Zarif
In a related development, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is accompanying President Rouhani in his Russia visit, said the visit was aimed at improving economic cooperation between the two countries and the fight against terrorism.
“With President Rouhani in Russia to reaffirm strong ties and enhance economic relations, regional cooperation and the fight against extremist terror,” Zarif said on his official Twitter account on Monday.