1208 GMT July 17, 2018
Ali Akbar Velayati, who is in Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin, also took a swipe at US President Donald Trump, saying his “unreliable” actions made Tehran’s close ties with Moscow all the more necessary.
The United States pulled out of a multinational deal in May to lift sanctions against Iran in return for curbs to its nuclear program. Washington says it will reimpose sanctions and has told other countries to halt all imports of Iranian oil as of Nov. 4, or face US financial measures.
“The relationship between Iran and the Russian Federation is a strategic relationship and in recent years the collective bilateral and regional relations have expanded,” Velayati said on arrival in Moscow.
He said he would deliver messages to Putin from Ayatollah Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani and that they would discuss the “very sensitive” global situation.
Velayati cited Russian and Iranian cooperation in Syria, where they both support President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the seven-year Syrian war against “terrorism and its sponsors.”
“Only a strategic and long-term relationship (with Russia) can promote the continuation of such a cooperation,” said Velayati, who was also due to meet Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak in Moscow.
Velayati described Trump as an “unreliable individual... in relation to international law, which necessitates more and more cooperation (between Iran and Russia).”
Apart from the United States, the other signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal – Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain – have said they still support the accord.
But European firms are reluctant to risk far-reaching US financial penalties they would face for doing business in Iran.
Netanyahu’s trip ‘has no effect’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who strongly backs Trump’s decision to quit the nuclear deal, was also visiting Moscow on Wednesday. Netanyahu has said he wants to discuss Iran’s “threat” with the Russian president.
Asked about Netanyahu’s visit, Velayati said: “His presence or absence in Russia has no effect on our strategic mission in Moscow.”
He called Netanyahu a “vagabond” who makes “baseless and illogical” remarks, saying “nobody cares about his words.”
Velayati is also expected to visit China in the near future, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
Reuters contributed to this story.