NEWS & ANALYSIS: Iran and its neighbors

Caspian summit a triumph for Iran

Few regional summits have drawn closer attention, by both the media and world governments, than this week’s summit of leaders of Caspian littoral states in Tehran.

The two day summit, coinciding with twin nuclear crises and escalating US-Iran tensions relating to Iraq and the Middle East, is bound to be regarded as a milestone in regional cooperation, with serious ramifications for a broad array of issues transcending the Caspian Sea region.

Billed as a “great leap toward progress” by Mehdi Safari, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister in charge of Iran’s Caspian affairs, the summit has been a great success for Iran as well as Russia and the other participants (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan), and Tehran is likely to capitalize on it as a stepping stone for full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), considered a security counterweight to NATO and US “hegemony”. [complete article]

Putin stands by Iran

Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, appearing side by side with his Iranian counterpart at a five-nation summit here Tuesday, made a powerful show of support for America’s regional archenemy, drawing the line against any attack on Iran and reaffirming Tehran’s right to a civilian nuclear program.

At the same time, Putin stopped short of unconditional support for the Iranian regime, although the tenor of his remarks appeared at odds with earlier suggestions from the Bush administration that Putin might take a more pro-Western stance. [complete article]

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