Russia’s Putin in Iran for Talks Focusing on Syria

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin visited Tehran on Monday for talks with Iranian leaders that focused on the Syrian crisis and an international peace plan intended to end the conflict.

During his meeting with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, both Putin and the top cleric warned against any effort to impose a political settlement on Syria.

“No one from the outside can and should enforce models of government on the Syrian people and determine who should be in charge,” Putin said. “Only the Syrian people should decide that.”

Khamenei accused the United States and its allies of trying “to achieve through diplomacy and at the negotiating table the goals they could not achieve by military means in Syria.”

Putin’s visit comes as Russia, the United States, France and others are talking about possible joint action against the Islamic State group following the terror attacks in Paris and the downing of a Russian passenger jet in Egypt — both attacks claimed by IS. Putin’s trip also comes on the heels of agreement on an incomplete peace plan that calls for talks between Syrian President Bashar Assad and his foes.

Moscow and Tehran have been the key backers of Assad throughout his nation’s civil war, which has killed over 250,000 people and turned millions into refugees.

Putin, on a one-day visit to attend a gas exporting nations’ summit, praised Iran for its support of Russia’s operation in Syria.

“All that has been done in coordination with our Iranian partners and without their help it would have been impossible,” he said