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Russian security official visits Iran in push to deepen ties amid Ukraine war

DUBAI (Reuters) -A senior Russian security official met Iranian leaders in Tehran on Wednesday and the two countries pledged closer ties in the face of Western pressure over Russia's war in Ukraine.

Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev's visit took place following accusations by Ukraine and the West that Russia has used Iranian Shahed-136 drones to target Ukraine's energy infrastructure in a series of attacks over recent weeks.

Patrushev and Iran's top security official Ali Shamkhani discussed the situation in Ukraine and measures to combat what they called "Western interference" in their internal affairs, Russian state media reported.

"Iran welcomes and supports any initiative that leads to a ceasefire and peace between Russia and Ukraine based on dialogue and is ready to play a role in ending the war," Shamkhani said, according to Iran's NourNews agency.

Shamkhani also called for deeper ties with Russia in the energy, transportation, agriculture, trade and banking sectors, NourNews said.

Patrushev, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, also met Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, and they emphasised improving strategic relations between the two countries.

"The most decisive response to U.S. sanctions...is the cooperation of independent countries," Raisi said, according to Iranian state media.

Russia has stepped up its efforts to build economic and political relations with Iran and other non-Western countries since it invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, as part of a drive to destroy what it calls U.S. "hegemony".

(Reporting by Dubai Newsroom; Editing by Jon Boyle, Mark Heinrich and Angus MacSwan)