Putin hosts Raisi as part of a blitz round of Middle East diplomacy after visits to the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has condemned Israel’s assault on Gaza as he met Russian President Vladimir Putin for talks in Moscow.
Putin hosted Raisi on Thursday as part of a blitz round of Middle East diplomacy that also included visits to United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in efforts to raise Moscow’s profile as a power broker in the region.
Putin has cast the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza as a failure of US diplomacy and suggested Moscow could be a mediator in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Greeting Raisi at the Kremlin, Putin said it was important to discuss the situation in the Middle East, especially in the Palestinian territories.
Raisi responded via a translator: “What is happening in Palestine and Gaza is, of course, genocide and a crime against humanity.”
“It’s not just a regional issue, it’s an issue for the entire humankind,” he told Putin, adding that “it’s necessary to find a quick solution.”
Iran backs the Palestinian group Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip. Russia has relations with all the key players in the Middle East including Hamas and Israel, the latter of which it angered by hosting a Hamas delegation in Moscow in October.
Some analysts have said the Gaza conflict has benefitted Russia by distracting world attention from the war in Ukraine and enabling Moscow to align itself with other developing countries in solidarity with the Palestinians.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a rare one-day lightning tour to the Middle East during which he visited Saudi Arabia after a short trip to the United Arab Emirates.
Putin’s trip to the region is his first since July 2022, when he met Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Iran.
The Russian leader has made few international trips after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for him in March, accusing him of deporting Ukrainian children.
Like North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong Un held a summit with Putin in Russia’s far east in September, Iran is an avowed enemy of the United States and has the capacity to provide Moscow with military hardware for its war in Ukraine, where Russia has made extensive use of Iranian drones.
The US has voiced strong concern about the growing military cooperation between Moscow and Tehran and warned that Iran may be preparing to provide Russia with advanced ballistic missiles for use in the war in Ukraine.
The Kremlin last month said Russia and Iran were developing their relations, “including in the field of military-technical cooperation”, but declined to comment on the issue.