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Putin in Iran for Syria summit overshadowed by Ukraine war

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi hold a meeting in Tehran on July 19, 2022. Iran’s president will host his Russian and Turkish counterparts for talks on the Syrian war in a three-way summit. (Photo: AFP)

TEHRAN  — Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Tehran for talks Tuesday on the Syrian war at a three-way summit overshadowed by fallout from his country’s war on Ukraine.اضافة اعلان

Putin traveled abroad for only the second time since ordering the invasion of Ukraine in order to attend the gathering that also involves Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.



Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) shaking hand with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting as part of the Astana Trilateral Summit at the Tehran International Conference Hall in Tehran. (Photo: Turkish Presidential Press Service/AFP) 

The summit comes days after US President Joe Biden visited the Middle East for the first time in his presidency, with stops in Iran’s regional foes Israel and Saudi Arabia.

It is the first hosted by Iran’s ultra-conservative president Ebrahim Raisi since he took office last year and is ostensibly aimed at ending more than 11 years of conflict in Syria.

All three are involved in the conflict, with Iran and Russia supporting Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad and Turkey backing rebel forces.

Ahead of the trilateral meeting, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met Erdogan, who has repeatedly threatened to launch a new military offensive against Kurdish militants in northern Syria.

Khamenei warned the Turkish leader that such a move would be “detrimental” for the region and called for the issue to be resolved through dialogue between Ankara, Damascus, Moscow, and Tehran.

Erdogan, speaking later at a joint news conference with his Iranian counterpart, said Kurdish militias caused “great trouble” for both Iran and Turkey.

“We should fight against these terrorist organizations in solidarity and alliance,” he added.

The presidents also oversaw the signing of a number of agreements in different fields, including in trade and economy.

Ukraine grain

Erdogan has for months been offering to meet Putin in a bid to help resolve heightened global tensions.

“The timing of this summit is not a coincidence,” Russian analyst Vladimir Sotnikov said.

“Turkey wants to conduct a ‘special operation’ in Syria just as Russia is implementing a ‘special operation’ in Ukraine.”

Turkey has launched waves of attacks on Syria since 2016, targeting Kurdish militias as well as Daesh extremists and Assad loyalists.

Russia’s war on Ukraine has massively hampered shipments from one of the world’s biggest exporters of wheat and other grain, sparking fears of global food shortages.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for mediating talks on the export of grain from Ukraine, saying there was some progress after the meeting.

“I want to thank you for your mediation efforts,” Putin told Erdogan during a meeting in Tehran in comments released by the Kremlin.

“With your mediation, we have moved forward,” Putin said. “Not all issues have yet been resolved, but the fact that there is movement is already good.”

Putin also said there were “a lot of questions” on war-torn Syria that needed to be addressed.

He also said that the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis, which is at the center of a territorial dispute between arch foes Armenia and Azerbaijan, was another “important” issue to discuss.

‘Iran-phobia’

On Sunday, a day after Biden ended his tour of the Middle East, Iran accused the US of provoking crises in the region.

Biden had vowed the US would not “tolerate efforts by any country to dominate another in the region through military buildups, incursions, and/or threats”, in reference to Iran.

In a speech at a Saudi summit of Gulf Arab states as well as Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq, Biden assured those gathered that the US would remain fully engaged in the Middle East.

“We will not walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia, or Iran,” he said.

Following the meeting, a joint statement committed the leaders to “preserve regional security and stability”.

It also underscored diplomatic efforts to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, a goal the Islamic republic has always denied seeking.

On Sunday, Iran accused the US of having “once again resorted to the failed policy of Iran-phobia, trying to create tensions and crises in the region”.

The US last week alleged Iran plans to deliver “hundreds of drones” to Russia to aid its war on Ukraine, an accusation the Islamic republic dismissed as “baseless”.

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