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ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Russia is ready to invest in Iran’s oil sector, a senior advisor to the Supreme Leader said after a “constructive” meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. 

Ali Akbar Velayati went into the meeting with messages for Putin from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani that stress the importance of strategic ties between Russia and Iran. 

“The present situation is very sensitive. The world is under the influence of a rebel as the president of the US. Thus, collaborations get more and more necessary,” Velayati told Putin in their meeting in Moscow, IRNA reported. 

Speaking to Iranian state TV afterwards, Velayati said the meeting had been “very constructive and friendly,” Reuters reported.

“Putin said that Russia is prepared to continue its oil investment in Iran at the level of $50 billion,” he said.

A major Russian oil company, which Velayati did not name, has signed a $4 billion deal that will be “implemented soon,” while Rosneft and Gazprom are in talks to sign contracts potentially reaching $10 billion, he detailed. 

The investment is urgently needed in Iran has multinationals are pulling out ahead of US sanctions, due to start coming into force in early August. Oil-related sanctions will be introduced in November. 

Velayati said the Russian investments could compensate Iran for the withdrawal of other foreign oil companies. 

“Putin reiterated that Russia rejects America’s decision to impose sanctions on Iran,” Velayati said. “He said Russia will stand by Iran and will defend Tehran’s rights.” 

Velayati said Iran would also like to see development of ties in the fields of defence, security, and nuclear technology. 

A statement from the Kremlin said Putin reaffirmed Moscow’s commitment to the nuclear deal, despite the US pulling out of the agreement. The Kremlin statement did not confirm the oil investment. 

With the economy under threat and the currency losing value, top Iranian officials have been touring the globe to shore up support and improve Iran’s international relations, foreign ministry spokesperson Bahram Qasemi told IRNA news on Thursday. 

US President Donald Trump said he is confident Iran will cave under the economic pressure and seek a new deal. 

“I know they’re having a lot of problems and their economy is collapsing. But I will tell you this: at a certain point they’re going to call me, they’re going to say ‘Let’s make a deal.’ They’re feeling a lot of pain right now,” he said at a press conference at a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday. 

The remaining signatories – Russia, China, and European nations – are committed to upholding the nuclear deal. 

Rouhani has said Iran will remain in the agreement if its interests are secured. 

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