Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is on an official two-day visit to Moscow, meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues.
The trip is taking place during one of the most important periods in Iran and Russia’s relationship, with the Syrian crisis having become a showcase of the growing partnership between the two countries. The overall cordial relationship aside, the true significance of Rouhani’s visit can best be understood by taking into account five key points.
First and foremost, it should be noted that it is Rouhani’s first official visit to Moscow, and technically it is the first time the two leaders will meet within a purely bilateral framework. Although it is the ninth time Putin and Rouhani will have met face to face, their previous meetings were held either on the sidelines of international events, such as the UN General Assembly meeting, or in the context of multilateral initiatives.
The last time they met was on Aug. 8, 2016, when they joined their Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev for a trilateral summit in Baku. Putin’s only visit to Tehran during the past 10 years took place on Nov. 23, 2015, for a summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum.
Second, the visit takes place as the regional partnership between the two countries with a focus on Syria has entered a new phase after Iran was officially named alongside Russia and Turkey as one of the guarantors of the Syrian cease-fire. After the recent round of Syria talks in Kazakhstan on March 15, Russia’s envoy to Syria Alexander Lavrentiev said that Iran had signed a document to this effect.