Iran has been unused to big international conferences since the 1979 Islamic revolution, so Tehran has pushed the boat out for the Caspian Sea nations’ meeting today. Delegates were serenaded to the talks table with grand classical music as hosts Tehran sought to ensure a dignified start to the talks.
President Vladimir Putin is the first Russian leader to visit Iran since Joseph Stalin in 1943. After a previous co-operation agreement between Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Iran and Turkmenistan over caviar quotas, the five Caspian neighbours are now trying to agree on oil.
They have already decided not to allow any third country to use their soil for an attack on another member, and that any member has the right to develop peaceful nuclear energy. Putin’s visit has been accompanied by rumours of a plot to kill him, so security was ultra-tight. A phalanx of tall bodyguards surrounded him at the airport, and he was quickly whisked away to the conference hall in a convoy of armoured limousines.
Putin said it was “unacceptable” to use force to resolve the region’s problems, while agreeing to sell Iran engines for its Mig 29 fighter fleet.