Leader letter to Putin was ‘very important’: ambassador

July 14, 2021 - 18:47

TEHRAN – Iranian Ambassador to Russia Kazem Jalali has given more details about the letter Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

 Speaking in an interview with Iranian state TV, the ambassador said the letter was in the direction of boosting Iran-Russia ties in various fields. 

“This letter that the Leader wrote to Putin was very important, it was aimed to expand the relations between the two countries and there are different areas in this letter, both in terms of the future agreement that should be reached and in terms of economic cooperation,” Jalali said, according to Fars News. 

He stated that the relations between the two countries are expanding in different dimensions and our main weakness is in our relations in both cultural and economic sectors.

“Therefore, these two issues have been mentioned so that we can take steps to develop economic relations. The letter also addresses regional and international cooperation,” Jalali continued. 

In February, Speaker of Iran’s Parliament Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf paid an important visit to Russia during which he delivered a letter from Leader of the Islamic Revolution. The visit was successful, marred only by careless speculations and inaccurate reports on the scheduled meetings of the speaker during his stay in Moscow.

Qalibaf met with his Russian counterpart Vyacheslav Volodin and other officials. Volodin also served as Putin’s special representative in receiving Ayatollah Khamenei’s message.

“My today’s visit to Russia is being done at the invitation of the chairman of the Russian State Duma. The Leader has always underlined our strategic relations with Russia…. One of the outstanding aspects of this visit is that I’m carrying an important message about strategic issues,” Qalibaf told reporters at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport before leaving for Moscow.

The message’s details are yet to be disclosed. Some Iranian officials suggested that the message was about the current state of play in the region. Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the special aide to the speaker of the Iranian Parliament on international affairs, noted that the message had something with Iran’s relations with the West after Joe Biden assumed office in the U.S. and the impact of these relations on Tehran’s ties with the emerging powers in the East.
Amir-Abdollahian, who accompanied Qalibaf during his visit to Moscow, said the visit was done in a “sensitive period of time” when new people are moving into the White House.

“The visit… will send a message to the Islamic Republic’s regional allies that Iran will no longer waste time waiting for the game of the White House’s new people or the three European signatories to the JCPOA (France, the UK and Germany),” Amir-Abdollahian said in an article for the khamenei.ir, referring to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major world powers by its acronym.

“Any decision in the White House will not change the Islamic Republic's approach to maintaining, strengthening, developing and consolidating Tehran’s strategic relations with Moscow and Beijing, and the Islamic Republic of Iran's strategic and long-term view of Asia as an important player in the last century,” the special aide continued.
The message came against a backdrop of renewed efforts to strengthen strategic ties between Iran and Russia on the one hand and with China on the other.
These efforts were being made in the midst of a public debate in the West over the U.S.'s possible return to the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

'Putin gave a detailed answer to the Leader’s letter'

Jalali said Putin gave a detailed answer to the Leader’s letter that could open a new chapter in Tehran-Moscow relations. 
“Both the content of the letter and what the Supreme Leader mentioned were very important for the development of relations, and Putin also gave a detailed answer in this regard, which could be considered a new chapter in the relations between Iran and Russia,” the ambassador said. 
He also addressed other issues related to Iran-Russia ties, calling for the deepening of the Iranian understanding of “the new Russia” under Putin.
The Iranian ambassador spoke about the expansion of cultural relations between Iran and Russia. He said the level of the knowledge of the two nations about each other is very low and is not commensurate with the capacity of the two countries' neighborhood and past history.

He pointed out, “We do not have one language to introduce each other, for example in the field of national security and Iran's neighborhood, 300 million people speak Russian as their first language and 500 million as their second language, but we do not yet have a Russian-language television network; of course, this important event will happen soon with the follow-up of the head of the Radio and Television Organization. We have to introduce Iran to the Russians, and on the other hand, the Russians have to introduce themselves to us, and we are seriously weak in this regard.”

“We should know the new Russia, but we did not know it, because our relations with Russia are weak and our elite society does not have much contact with Russia. Today there is a mutual need between Iran and Russia. We can cooperate in many areas of technology,” he said. 

As for trust in the field of international relations, Jalali said, “In the field of bilateral, multilateral and international relations, the discussion of interests is mutual. If we have no interest anywhere, will we have a special relationship with Russia?”

He pointed to a law passed by the Americans to destroy Iran-Russia relations, which also includes annual budgets. “They have budgeted $1,900 billion to destroy Iran’s relations with Russia and China as well as relations with Europe.”

“The Supreme Leader has always emphasized that Iran is independent, at the same time Russia is our northern neighbor, and we also want a powerful Russia, and it can be useful for the world arena today, because our views on the world arena are common. We are not defined as a subordinate to Russia, we are today a great regional power alongside Russia,” Jalali stated, adding, “If we are fighting terrorism in the region, the main flag of this struggle is in the hands of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The important role of the martyr General Soleimani and the subsequent involvement of Russia in the fight against Daesh and terrorism is quite clear. The Islamic Republic of Iran is completely independent in its foreign policy. These are misperceptions that intend to destroy Iran's relations with Russia, as well as Iran's relations with China.”

According to Jalali, a new bloc is taking shape in the East comprising of countries under U.S. sanctions. “Today we can form a bloc of sanctioned countries. Russia, China and we are under sanctions. The Eastern bloc is being formed. Those who speak with U.S. money against Iran today should know that the Chinese are the power of the future,” he pointed out. 

Responding to a question on whether the idea of the club of sanctioned countries has been raised with the Russians, Jalali said, “We have raised it several times so far and we are trying. For example, very good progress has been made in the field of domestic messaging apps of the two countries, the use of national currencies and connecting some banks to a joint acceleration system between Iran and Russia.”

According to the Iranian ambassador, currently, 40% of trade between Iran and Russia is done in their national currencies. “We are now moving towards a free trade agreement and negotiations are underway, and the new government (the Raisi government) must act wisely because we do not have much time ahead and we must complete all the formalities by March so that we can join the free trade agreement in three years,” he said. 

Jalali called for the expansion of economic ties between Iran and Russia, saying, “Of course, we are weak in the economic field. We have three air, land and sea routes to reach the Russian market. We do not have a land border with Russia, and to use the land border we have to go through intermediary countries such as Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia.”

Jalali also said that a decades-long bilateral agreement has been automatically renewed for another five years. “In 2001, we signed a 20-year agreement with Russia, and it was approved by the Islamic Consultative Assembly. And it was decided that if one of the two countries had something to say about the contract and its extension, they would raise it one year before the end, otherwise it would be renewed every five years. The agreement has now been automatically extended for five years, and at the highest levels in the country, in the letter written by the Supreme Leader to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the response Putin gave, it was discussed that the agreement should be extended by more than two decades,” he noted. 

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