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Russian premier, Iranian president to discuss bilateral ties, trade prospects

Russian Prime Minister and Iranian President also will continue to exchange views on the preferential trade regime between the Eurasian Economic Union and Tehran

MOSCOW, March 27. /TASS/. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will meet on Monday with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who is beginning a two-day visit to Russia.

According to the press service of the Russian Cabinet, Medvedev and Rouhani "will discuss the current state and prospects for the development of bilateral cooperation in trade, economy, investment, the energy sector, industry and agriculture and progress in the implementation of large-scale joint projects in various areas." "They will continue to exchange views on the preferential trade regime between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Iran," the press service added.

The Iranian president is arriving in Russia for an official visit at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The talks between the Russian leader and Rouhani are scheduled for the second day of the visit, March 28.

Prospects for trade agreement

At the EAEU summit last December, the presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia approved the proposals to start negotiations on establishing free trade zones with Iran and some other countries. Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said at that time that the Iranian president expressed interest in signing a provisional agreement with the EAEU that would eventually lead to setting up a free trade zone.

On March 7, the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council decided to hammer out such an agreement following a meeting in Bishkek. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov later noted that the EAEU member-countries’ heads of government "discussed in detail the approaches to either establishing the free trade zones a bit later or the terms for signing a preferential trade agreement (with Iran) now," and issued the appropriate instructions on the talks between the Eurasian Economic Commission and Iran on the issue.

On March 13, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak who is a co-chairman of the Russian-Iranian intergovernmental commission said that the document could be agreed on by the Iranian president’s arrival in Moscow. According to the Iranian Ambassador to Russia, Mehdi Sanai, the signing of the agreement on a free trade zone between Iran and the EAEU will "create the appropriate conditions for increasing the volume of mutual trade," considering that the trade turnover between Russia and Iran grew by 80% in 2016.

Agenda of the visit

Iranian media note that the upcoming meeting with Putin will be the ninth during Rohani’s nearly four years in office. According to the Kremlin press service, during the talks the two presidents are to discuss the entire array of issues related to the Russian-Iranian cooperation and continue to exchange views on pressing global and regional issues. A number of bilateral documents will be signed after the talks.

In the run-up to the visit, Iranian Ambassador to Russia Mehdi Sanai said that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and President Hassan Rouhani attach special importance to the development of relations with Russia, while "the level and quality of the Russian-Iranian relations can be considered exemplary in the international arena." He voiced confidence that the upcoming top-level talks in Moscow will contribute to further development of bilateral and regional cooperation between Iran and Russia.

Iranian delegation

Iranian president's deputy chief of staff for communications and information, Parviz Esmaeili, told the Tasnim News Agency that during his visit to Moscow Hassan Rouhani will be accompanied by some ministers as well as his deputies and advisers. According to the IRNA news agency, the Iranian delegation will include Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Minister of Information and Communications Technology and co-Chair of the Russian-Iranian Intergovernmental Commission, Mahmoud Vaezi. According to some Iranian media, the delegation will include Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh.

A delegation of Iran’s business circles will take part in that trip as well. According to the Iranian side, a number of documents covering a wide range of areas of cooperation are being prepared to be signed during the visit.