15 July, 2018
Russian President Vladimir Putin met Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Thursday in Moscow, RIA news agency reported, without providing any details.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration pulled out of the 2015 multilateral Iran nuclear agreement and begin reimposing economic sanctions on the Middle Eastern country.
"Iran and Russia's presence in Syria will continue to protect the country against terrorist groups and America's aggression ..."
Velayati is among special envoys that Iran is sending to various countries in response to the United States withdrawal earlier this year from the 2015 nuclear deal.
A rebel fighter walks near what purportedly are the remains of a Syrian regime drone that was shot down by Israel the day before, in a field near Barqah, a few dozen km from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on July 12, 2018. With the American exit from the Iranian nuclear deal, the reinstatement of U.S. sanctions, particularly oil sanctions, coupled with increasing tension between Iran and Israel on Syria's southern border, Iran will need to more deeply rely on Russia's political and economic clout.
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In a statement on Thursday, the Kremlin said the meeting between Putin and Velayati focused on regional security, particularly the situation in Syria, and the USA withdrawal from the 2015 global nuclear deal.
While the pressure for Iran to limit its presence in Syria will create de facto fissures between the alliance of Russia, Iran and Syria, the three countries' converging interests mean compromises would need to be made.
After Netanyahu and Putin's meeting on Wednesday evening, Israeli diplomatic sources were quoted as saying by the Ynet website that "Russia is acting to push Iranian forces from near the Syrian border".
The former foreign minister also praised cooperation between the two countries in the global arena, including on the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as well as in defense, economic and security sectors. It bombed Iranian targets in Syria in response.
The Israeli army on Friday said it fired a missile at a drone approaching the country from Syria, the latest in a series of such incidents.
"While Assad needs the Iranians and the Russians, an Iran that is constrained by sanctions is much less useful to him over the long run".