Vladimir Putin, Bashar Al-Assad
Vladimir Putin, Bashar Al-AssadReuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on Monday talked up ties between their two nations at a UN summit dominated by Moscow's push on the conflict in Syria, AFP reports. 

Russia and Iran both back the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the Kremlin is pressing the West to side with him and Tehran in its fight against jihadists from the Islamic State group.

"I would like to note that our relations are developing quite actively," Putin told Rouhani at a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting. "As for our cooperation, we are satisfied with it, including in the international arena, in the fight against terrorism."

Rouhani likewise lavished praise on the "good consensus" between Tehran and Moscow on the instability in the Middle East and said the two countries "play a very important role" in ensuring security of the region.

"All in the world now understand that without solving the problems of the Middle East those problems will spill into other regions and engulf the entire world," he said.

Both men were among the star turns on a day of frantic diplomacy in New York as they tried to tilt the situation over Syria in their favor.

Putin - who was set to meet US leader Barack Obama later Monday for the first time in two years - has thrust himself back into the international spotlight with a lighting charge on the Syrian conflict after over 18 months of isolation by the West over Ukraine.

Rouhani, meanwhile, gave a speech to the UN for the first time since Tehran edged in from the cold after signing a landmark deal with world powers over its nuclear program.

Both leaders have been working closely in Syria, raising concerns from Israel and the West that Russia could interfere in strikes on ISIS or in Iran.