The meetings come shortly ahead of a trilateral summit on Syria with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Tehran, Iran – Russian President Vladimir Putin has met with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran.

The meetings on Tuesday came shortly ahead of a trilateral summit on Syria with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had sat down with Khamenei and Raisi hours earlier.

The office of the supreme leader published an image of Khamenei shaking hands with the Russian president, a rare occurrence since the COVID-19 pandemic. Khamenei had only shaken hands with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Iran’s other major ally in the region, who had made a surprise visit to Tehran in May.

A clip of Putin’s meeting with Raisi showed them praising improvements in bilateral relations and cooperation across the region.

“In terms of international security, we will increase our cooperation,” Putin said, adding that the two countries play a major role in ensuring Syria’s security.

The Iranian president told him cooperation between Iran and Russia has created stability and security in the region.

“Countries that made claims about fighting terrorism in West Asia didn’t take any meaningful steps in this regard, but it was the Islamic Republic of Iran and Russia that showed their honestly and serious will through serious cooperation on fighting terrorism,” Raisi said.

This is Putin’s fifth trip to Tehran, and his second foreign visit after he launched the war in Ukraine in February. Putin had first visited the Iranian capital in 2007, and subsequently in 2015, 2017, and 2018.

His visit comes days after United States President Joe Biden finished a tour of the region that saw him visit Israel, the occupied West Bank, and Saudi Arabia, where he also met with the Arab leaders of the region.

$40bn energy agreement

The meetings come after Putin’s delegation, which had arrived late on Monday, earlier on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) worth $40bn with Iran on developing oil and gas fields.

According to the official news outlet of the Iranian oil ministry, Russian energy giant Gazprom and the National Iranian Oil Company signed the MoU, which covers the development of the Kish and North Pars gas fields, as well as six oil fields.

The non-binding agreement comes as the current total volume of Russian investments in Iranian energy fields stands at $4bn, Iranian officials said.

Iran has the second-largest reserves of natural gas in the world after Russia, but has lagged in expanding its infrastructure due to sanctions that have prevented foreign investments.

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