Putin says Russia-Iran ties 'developing positively'

SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan: Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed growing ties with Tehran as he met Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of a regional summit on Thursday.

"On the bilateral level, cooperation is developing positively," Putin said, as Moscow looks to use the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Uzbekistan to show it is not isolated internationally despite the conflict in Ukraine.

"We are doing everything to make Iran a full member of the SCO," Putin added, in reference to Tehran's application for full membership in the group, which brings together China, Russia, India, Pakistan and four ex-Soviet Central Asian countries.

Iran, one of four SCO observer states, applied for full membership in 2008 but its bid was slowed by UN and US sanctions imposed over its nuclear programme.

Several SCO members did not want a country under international sanctions in their ranks -- a situation that now applies to Russia as well.

Putin said work on a major new Russia-Iran treaty on strategic ties was nearly completed and that Moscow would be sending a Russian business delegation to Iran next week to develop commercial ties. -- AFP

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