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Not up to Russia to persuade Iran to leave Syria: Putin

Press TV – Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected US and Israeli calls for Moscow to persuade Iran to pull its military forces out of Syria, saying it is not what Russia can make a decision about.

Putin made the comments in an address to the annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Thursday.

Moscow, he said, cannot force Tehran to end its presence in Syria and that a possible withdrawal is an issue between Damascus and Tehran to decide.

The issue, however, can be discussed among Iran, Syria, and the US, with Russia joining the dialog, he added.

Putin also said the countries calling for Iran to leave Syria should provide guarantees that they would not meddle in Syria’s affairs.

With Israel and the US asking Russia to keep Iranian forces at bay, Moscow has stated that Iran’s presence in Syria is at the request of the legitimate government in Damascus.

Putin’s special envoy for the Middle East Mikhail Bogdanov last week dismissed Tel Aviv’s demand that Iran be forced out of Syria, saying it was none of Israel’s business, but Syria’s sovereign right whether to allow Iranian forces on its soil.

“This is a sovereign country led by a legitimate government. It can agree on cooperation with any other country, including Iran, Russia, Israel,” Bogdanov noted in an interview with the Israeli TV channel i24NEWS released last Thursday.

“That’s Syria’s sovereign right, and it’s not the business of a third party to intervene in these subjects of politics or policy of a sovereign country,” said Bogdanov, who is also a deputy foreign minister.

At the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Iran has been providing military advisory assistance to the Syrian army in its operations to eliminate terror groups.

However, over the past few years, Israel has frequently attacked military targets inside Syria in an attempt to prop up terrorist groups that have been suffering defeats at the hands of Syrian government forces.

Iran sanctions, a chance to ditch US dollar

Putin further referred to US sanctions against the companies that engage in trade with Iran, saying the move would spur the creation of payment systems that don’t depend on the dollar.

The policy in Washington “undermines trust in the dollar as a universal payment instrument and the main reserve currency,” he added.

Putin said, “We did that not because we wanted to undermine the dollar, but because of sanctions that have been introduced against us.”

Iran, Russia, and Turkey have agreed on removing the US dollar from their mutual transactions as part of their efforts to expand trade relations amid Washington’s pressures.

The agreement was made on the sidelines of a key trilateral summit on Syria held in Tehran last month.