Putin to head to Tehran for Syria talks

July 13, 2022 12:00 am | Updated 05:37 am IST - Moscow

Russia, Turkey and Iran have been holding discussions to end more than 11 years of conflict in Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Iran next week, the Kremlin said on Tuesday, a day after the U.S. warned that Tehran could provide Moscow with drones for its action in Ukraine.

During a trip to Tehran next Tuesday, Mr. Putin will attend a trilateral meeting with the leaders of Iran and Turkey, the so-called Astana format of meetings for Syria-related talks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Mr. Putin’s visit to Iran will follow U.S. President Joe Biden’s trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia this week, where Iran’s nuclear programme will be a key focus of discussion.

Mr. Peskov said the Russian President will also have a separate meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In March, Mr. Erdogan helped mediate talks between Russian and Ukrainian representatives in Istanbul, Turkey. Mr. Peskov said there was no discussion about a new round of such negotiations.

UAVs for ‘use’ in Ukraine

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.

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

“Our information indicates that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred UAVs, including weapons-capable UAVs on an expedited timeline,” Mr. Sullivan told reporters on Monday, referring to drones by the acronym for unmanned aerial vehicles.

Iranian Foreign Minister spokesman Nasser Kanaani did not deny the U.S. claim.

“Iran’s cooperation with Russia in some sophisticated technologies dates to before the Russia-Ukraine war,” he said.

Iran long has worked on the development of drones, including so-called loitering munitions, the “kamikaze” drones.

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