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Putin to meet Ayatollah Khamenei during Iran visit: Kremlin

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a visit to Tehran Monday, the Kremlin said, as Moscow goes on a diplomatic push over the Syria conflict.
Talks with Iran’s leadership will focus on “issues in bilateral relations, including atomic energy, oil and gas and military-technical cooperation”, Putin’s top foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov said Friday, with the Russian president also set to meet his counterpart Hassan Rouhani.
After the visit to Tehran — Putin’s first there since 2007 — the Russian leader will host Jordanian King Abdullah II on Tuesday and French leader Francois Hollande on Thursday in Russia.
Russia and Iran are both militarily backing forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with Moscow flying a bombing campaign and Iran believed to command thousands of troops on the ground.
Putin has stepped up his push for a broader coalition of countries to fight Islamic State in Syria after confirming this week the bombing of a Russian passenger jet over Egypt and following last week’s bloody attacks in Paris.
The Kremlin strongman is also looking to strengthen business ties with Iran as Russian firms eye lucrative opportunities after the landmark nuclear deal that Tehran struck with world powers in July.
French leader Hollande — whose country is part of a separate US-led coalition bombing IS — has also called for international powers to join forces to battle the militants in the wake of the Paris attacks.
But divisions remain over what if any role Assad would play in the fight against IS, with Moscow and Tehran seeing his forces as central to defeating IS while the US and its allies want him gone.
“Ahead of the visit to Moscow the French president will visit Washington. We see this as a continuation of attempts to form the widest possible anti-terror coalition,” Ushakov told journalists.
The Kremlin also confirmed that Putin will take part in a key climate conference in Paris on November 30 and will meet Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu for talks on the sidelines of the event.
Despite earlier reports in the Russian press that Putin could host the Saudi Arabia’s King Salman in Russia for a meeting soon, Ushakov said that the two sides were eyeing a possible date next year after the leaders spoke at the G20 summit in Turkey.

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