Russia’s Lavrov to Hold Talks with Iran’s Zarif

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in Moscow on Wednesday, the Russian foreign ministry said Tuesday.

The two diplomats, longtime allies on a number of issues including the Syrian conflict, will discuss “key issues of the international and regional agenda” as well as bilateral cooperation, the ministry said in a statement.

“Cooperation with Iran is an important condition of ensuring our country’s national interests” and stability in the South Caucasus and the Middle East, it said.

Moscow has backed Iran since helping orchestrate the multi-country nuclear deal in 2015 under which Tehran agreed to halt its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

While Washington has pulled out from the nuclear deal, Russia argues that Tehran “remains a responsible participant”, the ministry said.

The United States on Monday warned it would deploy an aircraft carrier strike group to the vicinity of Iran in response to “indications of a credible threat by Iranian regime forces.”