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Putin to visit Tehran amid Iranian drone acquisition allegations

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By Euronews
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, 29 June 2022
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, 29 June 2022   -   Copyright  Grigory Sysoyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

President Vladimir Putin is to visit Iran next week, just one day after the United States accused Iran of sending weapons-capable drones to Russia.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced on Tuesday that Putin will travel to Tehran next Tuesday 19 July, to take part in a tripartite meeting with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts as part of the Astana peace process to end the war in Syria.

Putin intends to leave for Tehran right after the end of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia to discuss Iran’s nuclear programme and malign activities in the region.

According to Mohammadreza Pourabrahimi, Chairman of the Economic Commission of the Iranian Parliament, the government in Tehran hopes that Putin’s visit will provide the basis for the expansion of bilateral economic cooperation between Iran and Russia in a situation where both countries are under US sanctions. 

Peskov also confirmed that Putin will have a separate meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan while in Tehran.

Last March in Istanbul, Erdoğan hosted the first official meeting between Moscow and Kyiv after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late February.

This time, the Turkish president is expected to try and negotiate an end to the Russian blockade of Black Sea ports preventing exports of grain, which many fear might exacerbate further food price hikes and hunger.

Ukraine and Russia together export nearly a third of the world's wheat and barley, more than 70% of its sunflower oil and are prominent suppliers of corn.

The White House said on Monday that it believes that Russia is turning to Iran to provide it with “hundreds” of drones, including those capable of carrying weapons, for use in Ukraine.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said it was unclear whether Iran had already provided any drones to Russia, but said the US has “information” that indicates Iran is preparing to train Russian forces to use them as soon as this month.

Additional sources • AP