Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on Arab countries and others in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf to begin to recognize Iran’s rights as a traditional regional power.
In an interview with three major Arabic-language TV channels published on Saturday, Putin urged Iran’s neighbors to respect the country’s interests in the region.
He called Iran a country that has “existed on its territory for thousands of years,” according to an English translation of remarks published on the website of Russia’s RT news channel.
He reiterated that Russia wants to maintain close cooperation with both Tehran and other countries in the region despite the tensions that have grown over the past years.
In his interview, Putin also made an indirect reference to a Friday attack on an Iranian oil tanker sailing near Saudi Arabia’s western coast in the Red Sea.
He said all attacks on oil tankers in the regional waters should be condemned as they pose a major threat to the global security of energy.
Syria must be freed
Elsewhere in his remarks, Putin touched upon an ongoing military operation by Turkey into Syria’s Kurdish-dominated regions, saying Syria should be ultimately freed from the presence of all foreign military forces.
“Everyone who is illegitimately on the territory of any state, in this case Syria, must leave this territory. This applies to all states,” said Putin, whose country has been engaged in an anti-terror operation in Syria since late 2015, when the Syrian government demanded Moscow’s intervention.
Putin said Russian forces would leave Syria as soon as the Syrian government tells them to do so.
“Syria must be free from other states’ military presence. And the territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic must be completely restored,” he said.