Russian, Iranian FMs to Discuss Iran Deal

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to host Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday.

Ben Ariel ,

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will host his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday to discuss the deal on Tehran's nuclear program and the conflict in Syria, AFP reported on Saturday.

"The visit is taking place in the context of an increasingly active Russian-Iranian dialogue of late that reflects the high level of mutual understanding between Moscow and Tehran," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

The two countries are on increasingly good terms and Russia helped steer through the landmark July agreement with world powers over Iran's nuclear program.

Moscow is hoping that its firms can benefit from the nuclear deal, which should see economic sanctions lifted on Tehran.

Russia -- which along with Iran is one of the few remaining backers of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad -- has also launched a fresh diplomatic push to find a way out of Syria's four-year civil war that has cost some 240,000 lives.

Moscow is also preparing to deliver S-300 missile defense systems to Tehran despite a chorus of international criticism.

President Vladimir Putin, who signed a decree lifting a ban on the delivery of the S-300, explained that his decision was motivated by Iran's drive to find a solution in talks over its nuclear program.

Washington has voiced concern over the deal, but Iran hailed the decision as a step towards "lasting security" in the region.

Zarif’s visit comes following recent reports that Russia hosted Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite military Quds Force, who is subject to a United Nations travel ban.

Senior Western intelligence officials said Soleimani met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and President Vladimir Putin and that the meetings took place on July 24. Sanctions against Soleimani are due to be lifted in the event the Iran nuclear deal is implemented.

Russia on Friday denied claims that Soleimani visited Moscow, with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov saying, "I have no information whatsoever that he visited Russia."

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, also denied that the president had met with the Iranian commander.