20:01 GMT +316 October 2019
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    Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Hassan Rouhani at a news conference following the Russian-Iranian talks in Tehran (File)

    'A Lot of Work to Do': What's on the Agenda of the Putin-Rouhani Meeting?

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    In an interview with Sputnik Persian, Russian political analyst Vladimir Sazhi described the itinerary of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s official visit to Russia on March 27-28; the leader of the Islamic Republic was invited by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will start his two-day visit to Russia with a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on March 27, Russian political analyst Vladimir Sazhin told Sputnik Persian.

    But "the main thing will take place on March 28, when Presidents Putin and Rouhani are due to sit down for talks and will focus on important political issues," Sazhin said.

    He pointed to the current clout of Russia and Iran in the Middle East, saying that apart from pressing regional issues, the two leaders are expected to discuss the policy pursued by new US President Donald Trump.

    "Also on the table will be an array of issues pertaining to Iran's stance on Russia's interaction with Israel and Saudi Arabia as well as some differences between Moscow and Tehran regarding the Syrian crisis," Sazhin said.

    Despite the importance of a political discussion, the talks will mainly focus on issues related to developing financial as well as trade and economic relations between the two countries, according to Sazhin.

    He recalled that in recent years, the bilateral trade turnover stood at about two billion dollars, which is "an extremely low figure for such serious economies as Russia and Iran," and which means that Moscow and Tehran have "a lot of work to do."

    "More than ten major trade and economic agreements between Moscow and Tehran are expected to be signed during Rouhani's visit to Russia. If the two leaders manage to level out the existing bilateral difficulties, then the relations between the two countries can be developed in a positive and mutually beneficial way in the future," Sazhin pointed out.

    He added that there are several areas in which Russia is able to compete very effectively with other countries on the Iranian market, especially the investment one.

    These include nuclear and thermal power engineering, as well as some sectors of the Iranian oil and gas system as well as rail transport, where Iran has long been working to attract Russia, according to Sazhin.

    "As for bilateral investment cooperation, Russia has already pumped about one billion euros into Iran' railway network, with   serious financial injections into bilateral projects yet to be fulfilled. In this vein, the full-fledged military and technical cooperation of the two is also of paramount importance," he said, adding that "all these issues will also be discussed during the talks."

    "No doubt, Hassan Rouhani's visit to Moscow will give a necessary impetus to the development of Russian-Iranian relations," Sazhin pointed out.

    He recalled that since 2013, when Iran elected Rouhani President, the two countries have continued to bolster bilateral ties as "Vladimir Putin and Hasan Rouhani met on many different occasions."

    In 2013-2014, the two men met four times: on the sidelines of the meeting of the Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) heads of state in Bishkek on September 13, 2013, at the summit of the Shanghai Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia on May 21, 2014, at the meeting of the Council of SCO heads of state in Dushanbe on September 12, 2014 and at the 4th Caspian Summit in the Russian southern city of Astrakhan on September 29, 2014.

    On July 9, 2015, Putin and Rouhani met on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in the Russian city of Ufa.

    The leaders discussed key issues affecting Russian-Iranian relations, including prospects for expanded trade and economic ties and energy cooperation.

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