Putin Hails Ties With Iran
Challenging the US view of Iran as part of an "axis of evil", Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the long-standing ties with Tehran as he welcomed Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi to the Kremlin.
"Iran is a country which has long-standing traditional ties with Russia," the president was quoted as saying by the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti.
He added that he "warmly" remembered his talks in Moscow with Iranian President Mohammad Khatami in March last year, when the two men signed a series of nuclear and military accords.
Kharazi said Tehran was "interested in expanding economic cooperation" with Moscow, as he began the second day of his official visit to Russia by holding talks with his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov.
According to AFP, Iran is also interested in purchasing conventional weapons from Russia after Moscow, in November 2000, backed out of a secret Russia-US agreement barring arms sales to the Islamic republic.
Putin pointed to the "very important role" played by Iran in Central Asia and the Middle East, saying that Moscow and Tehran had a lot to discuss about international affairs.
Apart from nuclear and military cooperation, Kharazi's talks are also expected to focus on the situation in post-Taliban Afghanistan, the US-led campaign to wipe out terrorism and the crisis in the Middle East as well as efforts to resolve the disputed status of the oil-rich Caspian Sea.
Chairman of Russian Federal Council upper house Sergei Mironov said on Thursday that he held friendly and with Kharrazi. He told IRNA that they discussed regional and international issues in addition to bilateral cooperation.
Mironov appreciated Iran's positive stance in the northern Caucasus and cooperation with Russia on regional issues especially in helping the campaign against Taliban in Afghanistan.
He said that in accord with the agreements already made, Iran and Russia would extend humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan in the form of financial aid and social services. (Albawaba.com)
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