Putin in Tehran for talks on Syria, nuclear deal
Tehran: Russian President Vladimir Putin met Iran's leadership on Wednesday in Tehran as the two Damascus allies push a Syria peace plan and the Kremlin offers its backing for a landmark nuclear deal facing US opposition.
Putin — on his first visit to Tehran since 2015 — held talks with President Hassan Rouhani, before he was due to meet supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The Kremlin strongman will also take part in a three-way summit with Rouhani and the leader of ex-Soviet Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev aimed at bolstering economic ties between their energy-rich nations.
Moscow said Syria will be a focus of Putin's visit, which comes after Russia, Iran and Turkey pledged after negotiations in Kazakhstan to bring the Syrian regime and its opponents together for a "congress" to push peace efforts.
Russia and Iran, key military supporters of President Bashar al-Assad, and Turkey, which backs
Syrian rebels, have organised a series of peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana this year, agreeing on the establishment of "de-escalation" zones in various parts of the war-torn country.
Wednesday'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.
Tehran signed the deal with six countries including Russia and the United States, but Trump last month refused to certify the agreement, drawing criticism from Moscow which slammed the US president's "aggressive and threatening rhetoric" against Iran.
Ahead of Putin's arrival, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported Russia's chief of staff Valery Gerasimov flew into Tehran for talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Bagheri to discuss "Syria...and the fight against terrorism."