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Russia said it’s strengthening trade with Iran, boosting the economies of both nations as they contend with heavy US sanctions.

“We’re on track to raise trade, economic, logistics, investment, financial, banking cooperation, despite the unprecedented pressure that Russia is experiencing,” Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said at a meeting with businesses in Tehran, as reported by news service Interfax. Trade between Russia and Iran rose by more than 10% in the first quarter, he said.

Novak, who co-chairs the Russian-Iranian intergovernmental commission and oversees Russia’s energy affairs, is visiting Tehran as both nations seek to galvanize economic ties. Trade between the nations rose 81% to a record $3.3 billion in 2021, but Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said that level was “not acceptable” and vowed to increase two-way commerce to $10 billion a year.

The energy industries of both countries are sanctioned by the US -- in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and following America’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.

“We are ready to continue the implementation of already-initiated projects and to launch new ones,” Novak said.

Among those is the expansion of the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear plant. Talks with Moscow continue on the second and third phases of the facility, which will require “a lot of investment,” said Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

Moscow is also interested in developing the long-delayed North-South Transport Corridor, a rail cargo route from Russia to India that would boost trade from the Caspian and Persian Gulf regions, according to Novak.

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