Putin in Iran for Syria summit, overshadowed by Ukraine crisis

Putin to discuss mechanisms to export grain with Erdogan during gathering


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Published: Tue 19 Jul 2022, 6:58 PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Tehran for talks Tuesday on the Syrian war at a three-way summit overshadowed by fallout from his country's attack on Ukraine.

Putin travelled abroad for only the second time since ordering the attack on Ukraine in order to attend the gathering that also involves Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The summit comes days after US President Joe Biden visited the Middle East for the first time in his presidency, with stops in Israel and Saudi Arabia.

It is the first hosted by Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi since he took office last year and is ostensibly aimed at ending more than 11 years of conflict in Syria.

All three are involved in the conflict, with Iran and Russia supporting Syria's President Bashar Al Assad and Turkey backing rebel forces.

Ahead of the trilateral meeting, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met Erdogan.

Erdogan, speaking later at a joint news conference with his Iranian counterpart, said Kurdish militias caused "great trouble" for both Iran and Turkey.

"We should fight against these terrorist organisations in solidarity and alliance," he added.

The presidents also oversaw the signing of a number of agreements in different fields, including in trade and economy.

Erdogan has for months been offering to meet Putin in a bid to help resolve heightened global tensions.

"The timing of this summit is not a coincidence," Russian analyst Vladimir Sotnikov said.

In their talks, Putin and Erdogan would discuss mechanisms to export grain from Ukraine, a Kremlin source said.

Turkey - a NATO member on speaking terms with both Russia and Ukraine - has spearheaded efforts to resume the grain deliveries.

Ultimately, Erdogan is hoping to get "the green light" from Putin and Raisi for Turkey's military operation in Syria, said Sinan Ulgen, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned on Monday that Russia's blockade of Ukrainian ports threatens supplies to countless thousands vulnerable to starvation.

Borrell dubbed the issue "one of life and death for many human beings".

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