19 Dec 2019 10:46

Iran Russia's most reliable ally in Middle East - ambassador to Russia

MOSCOW. Dec 19 (Interfax) - Iran has demonstrated that it is the most reliable partner for Russia in the Middle East, but economic interaction remains a weak side of bilateral relations, Iranian Ambassador to Russia Mehdi Sanaei said.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has shown that it is the most reliable ally for Russia in the Middle East. Russia cannot forge strategic cooperation with other regional actors, which are allies of America and the Western bloc. We share common approaches toward world order, something that brings our positions even closer, especially now that both countries are subject to unilateral Western sanctions," Sanaei said in an interview published in the Russian newspaper Kommersant on Thursday.

"Indeed, the economy remains a weak side of our bilateral relations," he said.

"This can be explained in part by the position of both Iran and Russia as energy exporters. It is not easy to increase bilateral trade in such a situation. But the situation is gradually improving. Confirmation of this is that the volume of trade between the two countries grew 70% last year. Projects that involve state companies are making the most progress," the ambassador said.

Russia "used to focus too much on the West" both politically and economically, he said.

"Just a couple of years ago, it [Russia] was buying dairy and meat products mainly from Western countries, but today it is eyeing its other neighbors, including in the south," Sanaei said.

"Russia and China could probably do more from an economic standpoint to support Iran. But from the point of view of politics, they, especially Russia, are supporting us very actively," he said.