Putin Defends Ties with Iran and other \'Rogue States\'
Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday defended Moscow's improving ties with Soviet-era allies such as Iraq, Cuba and North Korea and vowed to continue building closer trade relations with Iran.
"In the Soviet era, we frightened the world so much that the world created huge military blocs. This did not help," Putin said in an interview on RTR public television.
"Over the past 10 years we decided that everyone loves us a lot. But this turned out also not to be the case. We have to put aside our imperialistic ambitions, but also figure out what our national interests are and defend them," he added.
Putin, who has visited Cuba and North Korea, said while that Soviet relations with its former Cold war allies had been strictly "ideological" Russia would now use its influence with these countries for pragmatic reasons.
Turning to Iran, the Russian president conceded that the international community had legimitate concerns about security in the Persian Gulf but insisted that Moscow was right to help its companies to do business there.
"There are clear changes taking place in Iran. We must take into account our interests, we must help our companies work there," said Putin.
Only days before November's US presidential vote, Moscow told Washington it was scrapping a secret five-year-old agreement to cease conventional arms sales to Iran.
The decision prompted the White House to warn that trade ties could suffer as a result, although no direct measure has been taken since -- MOSCOW (AFP)
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