Putin pledges $5 billion loan to Iran, criticises West for Assad opposition
Another €2 billion export loan will be granted to Iran by Russian state lender Vnesheconombank.
Russia and Iran agreed on developing cooperation on Monday during President Putin’s visit to Tehran for the Gas Exporting Countries Forum.
The two countries have selected 35 priority projects in energy, port facilities, and railway electrification, according to Putin.
"We [Russia and Iran] plan to expand the dynamics of our bilateral relations. We will pay special attention to the diversification of trade and make a wider use of national currencies in mutual settlements," Putin said.
Russian Railways signed a contract to electrify 495 kilometers of railway in Iran worth €1.2 billion. The three-year project will include building 32 stations and 95 tunnels.
Putin held talks with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Russia Today reported.
On his first trip to Tehran in nearly a decade, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the ongoing conflict in Syria, saying no foreign nation should interfere with Bashar Assad's regime.
Russia and Iran, political allies, are both supportive of Assad's regime and pledged Monday that they will oppose any foreign nation that attempts to "force any form of government upon the Syrian people from the outside, or decide who should rule them."
A Kremlin spokesman said Moscow and Tehran were united against "external attempts to dictate scenarios of political settlement in Syria."
Chief among those opposed to Assad's government is the United States, which has long backed Syrian rebel fighters and engaged in numerous actions aimed at dethroning him. Recently, though, Washington and Moscow have sided together in the global fight against terrorism.
Russia and the United States have for months been active in combating militants in Syria and continue to share the same anti-terror philosophy in the West Asian nation. Where the nations do not see eye-to-eye, though, is the issue of whether the controversial Assad should be allowed to remain in power.
Last week, the United States and Russia were among the 15 UN Security Council voters to support a resolution encouraging all nations to take any measures necessary to defeat Islamic State and al-Qaeda terrorists.
In recent months, Russia has bombarded various sites in Syria with airstrikes in lieu of placing ground troops there.
Iran and Russia both criticised the United States and Western nations Monday for pushing potential solutions in Syria that include removing Assad from power.
"This [issue] should be decided only by the Syrian people," Putin said.
Khamenei agreed, asserting that he doesn't believe the Obama administration is trustworthy.
"The Syrian president has gained the majority vote of the Syrian people with different political, religious and tribal views, and the US doesn't have the right to ignore this vote and election," the Ayatollah added.
"The Americans have a long-term plot and are trying to dominate Syria and then the whole region," he added.
Khamenei said other than the controversial nuclear agreement this summer, Iran would not negotiate with the United States on any issue.
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