Putin backs Iran nuclear deal, visits seen as rejection of U.S. policy

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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 U.S. policy.

Putin met with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rowhani, who had been expecting a statement of approval from the Russian leader on the 2015 deal that obliges Iran to cut back its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

U.S. President Donald Trump has lambasted the deal and refused to confirm whether his government will comply with it.

The U.S. suspects that Iran has been seeking to build a nuclear bomb.
Putin, Rowhani and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in a joint statement released after the Caspian regional heads of state met in Tehran that all parties to the agreement, which includes the US, “should strictly abide by their obligations,” according to Russian state news agency TASS.

The talks were also geared at boosting trade between the three countries, which share access to the Caspian Sea.

Iran has expressed a desire to show that U.S. approval is not needed for regional cooperation.

“No one is paying attention to the Americans’ rhetoric,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister, Ebrahim Rahimpur, said ahead of the talks.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Putin also expressed solidarity with Iran regarding the two countries’ cooperation in the ongoing conflict in nearby Syria.

Both Tehran and Moscow support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and are fighting together against the Islamic State terrorist group.

Tehran and Moscow are in favour of new elections in Syria, albeit with al-Assad’s participation.

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