Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is on an official two-day visit to Moscow, meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues. The trip is taking place during one of the most important periods in Iran and Russia's relationship, with the Syrian crisis having become a showcase of the growing partnership between the two countries. The overall cordial relationship aside, the true significance of Rouhani’s visit can best be understood by taking into account five key points.
First and foremost, it should be noted that it is Rouhani's first official visit to Moscow, and technically it is the first time the two leaders will meet within a purely bilateral framework. Although it is the ninth time Putin and Rouhani will have met face to face, their previous meetings were held either on the sidelines of international events, such as the UN General Assembly meeting, or in the context of multilateral initiatives. The last time they met was on Aug. 8, 2016, when they joined their Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev for a trilateral summit in Baku. Putin’s only visit to Tehran during the past 10 years took place on Nov. 23, 2015, for a summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum.