Russia and Iran discuss energy ties, Syrian settlement


MOSCOW (AP) — Russia and Iran agreed Tuesday to boost their energy ties and continue joint efforts to help reach peace in Syria and Afghanistan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said after the Kremlin talks with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani that Moscow and Tehran will continue to "strengthen cooperation in the fight against international terrorism."

Russia, Turkey and Iran have brokered a cease-fire that has helped reduce hostilities in Syria. They also have co-sponsored two rounds of Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, and are preparing for another round.

Russia and Iran have staunchly backed Syrian President Bashar Assad in the six-year conflict, while Turkey has supported Assad's opponents.

"The involvement of Russia and Iran along with Turkey as guarantors at the talks in Astana between the armed opposition and the Syrian government has been an important contribution to political settlement in Syria and helped Syrian talks ... in Geneva," Putin said.

Putin also welcomed Tehran's joining efforts to encourage dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

In a joint statement, Putin and Rouhani welcomed an OPEC agreement to cut oil production in order to drive up slumping petroleum prices, which both Russia and Iran have signed on to. "Russian and Iran will continue cooperation in that sphere to help stabilize the global energy market and ensure a steady economic growth," they said.

Rouhani said the steady development of trade and economic ties has made Russian-Iranian relations truly "strategic."

Following the launch of Iran's first Russian-built nuclear reactor at the Bushehr power plant, Moscow and Tehran are negotiating the construction of two other reactors there.

They also have agreed to consider joint oil and gas projects in Iran.

Putin said Russia has provided 2.2 billion euros in loans to fund the construction of the Sirik thermal power plant on the coast of the Persian Gulf, and a project to modernize a railway link in northern Iran.

He said that Iran also has shown interest in purchasing Russian passenger jets and helicopters.