Merkel will pay a working visit to Russia at Putin's invitation to discuss the escalation of tensions in the Middle East following a U.S. drone strike in Iraq on Friday which killed top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, the Kremlin press service said in a statement published on the presidential website.
Putin and Merkel will also “discuss pressing issues on the international agenda, including the situation in Syria and Libya” during their meeting, which will also address the Ukrainian settlement, the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry said its head Sergey Shoygu discussed the situation in the Middle East in separate phone conversations with the head of the Turkish Intelligence Organization Hakan Fidan and Mohammad Bagheri, Iranian chief of staff for the Armed Forces.
“During the conversation [with Fidan], the parties discussed the situation in the Middle East and North Africa as well as possible joint actions to reduce tensions and resolve crisis situations in the region,” said the ministry statement.
Regarding the phone conversation with Bagheri, it said “the military chiefs discussed practical steps to prevent the escalation of the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic and the Middle East region in connection with the murder of the commander of the Quds Forces, Gen. Qassem Soleimani,” in Iraq.
In a separate statement, the Foreign Ministry said Russia remains committed to Iran’s 2015 nuclear accord with six major powers despite Tehran’s announcement about its withdrawal from the agreement.
"The challenges that the international community have had to face in implementing comprehensive agreements require political will and a strong collective response, especially from the main participants in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). We are convinced that when these challenges are overcome, the Iranian side will have no reason to deviate from the agreed requirements. We urge all partners not to deviate from the path set by the JCPOA and to create conditions for its return to a sustainable track," it added.
Referring to Tehran's temporary suspension of some elements of the JCPOA, the ministry asserted that rejecting restrictions regarding technology development and uranium enrichment did not pose any threat of nuclear proliferation.
"Tehran's rejection of the JCPOA restrictions on the development of its capacity and technological capabilities in the field of uranium enrichment does not in itself pose any threat from the point of view of nuclear proliferation. All its actions are carried out in close cooperation and under the constant supervision of the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency]," it said.
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