Iran Official Says Khamenei Letter To Putin Opens 'The Century Of Asia'
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, adviser to the Iranian Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf (Qalibaf), in a note published by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’ s official website on Thursday [February 11] revealed details of a message from Khamenei to Russian President Vladimir Putin that Ghalibaf delivered in Moscow on Monday.
Amir-Abdollahian, Ghalibaf’s international affairs adviser, said Khamenei had emphasized that Iran’s foreign policy was “balanced” and pursued “neither Eastern nor Western policy.”
The publication of Amir-Abdollahian’s note, entitled 21st Century, The Century Of Asia, on Khamenei’s website, Khamenei.ir, indicates its authenticity, and that views expressed are likely to be endorsed by the Supreme Leader’s close aides.
Amir-Abdollahian wrote that the timing of Ghalibaf’s visit to Moscow after the inauguration of the United States President Joe Biden bore a message to Iran’s regional allies that Iran would “not waste time in the game” of the new US administration or the European signatories of the 2015 nuclear deal, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Decisions made by the Biden administration would not change Iran’s “strategic relations with Moscow and Beijing” nor a long-term strategy of giving priority to Asia. The Russia of Putin was not the Soviet Union, Amir-Abdollahian observed: “We will definitely benefit from expansion and consolidation of cooperation with countries such as Russia.”
Ghalibaf, who arrived in Moscow on Sunday, met with the Chairman of Russian’s State Duma Viacheslav Volodin, Monday after he was refused a meeting with President Putin, ostensibly because Ghalibaf failed to accept required public-health protocols.
Ghalibaf passed the letter from Khamenei to Volodin, not as the Duma chairman, Amir-Abdollahian insisted, but as Putin’s special envoy. Amir-Abdollahian was able to report that just an hour later Ghalibaf had been assured Putin had read the message and given it “serious consideration.”
Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of the principlist flagship newspaper Kayhan and vocal opponent of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, wrote in an editorial on Thursday that Ghalibaf had been chosen to carry Khamenei’s message because he was “a prominent figure and deeply trusted by the Supreme Leader.”
Ghalibaf may have expected a domestic boost from his Moscow trip, given he is a likely candidate in June’s presidential election, when he will seek to replace centrist President Hassan Rouhani and to defeat any candidate attempting to continue Rouhani’s policies. Ghalibaf, like Shariatmadari, has been a critic of Rouhani and has supported parliamentary moves expanding the nuclear program that Rouhani argues complicate the challenge in reviving the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which President Donald Trump left in 2018 and which Biden has pledged to revive.
Moscow has supported efforts by remaining JCPOA signatories to persuade both the US and Iran to honor the agreement, which Iran has violated since 2019 by expanding its nuclear program beyond JCPOA limits. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov reiterated Russia’s position on Thursday, stressing the urgency of the situation and that Moscow was consulting remaining JCPOA signatories and the US.
Ghalibaf has blamed Rouhani’s mismanagement rather than draconian US sanctions for Iran’s economic recession since 2018, and has criticized Rouhani over his commitment to revive the JCPOA and lift US sanctions. First elected president in 2013, Rouhani saw the JCPOA as allowing a diversified strategy in which Iran both had links with Russia or China and could attract investment and operation from Western companies including energy majors like Total and Shell.
In a tweet in Russian on Thursday, Ghalibaf proclaimed “the beginning of the post-American era,” and in Persian tweets the speaker claimed Khamenei’s “strategic letter” had opened “a new era” and offered a roadmap for Iranian diplomacy “looking east.”