Putin: Russia to Expand Nuclear Cooperation with Iran
President Vladimir Putin said Monday that Russia was ready to expand cooperation on nuclear energy with Iran, reported AFP, quoting Interfax news agency.
Putin said he had discussed the slow pace of the reactor's construction during his Kremlin talks with counterpart Mohammad Khatami who arrived Monday for a two-day official visit to Moscow.
Russia has been heavily criticized by the United States for building a nuclear reactor in Bushehr, which was commissioned in January 1994 and is still under construction.
Putin said also that his country will continue to sell arms to Iran, saying Teheran had the right to defend itself from external attack, AFP quoted Interfax as saying.
Meanwhile, the Russian official agency said that Putin accepted an invitation to visit Iran, but the date of that visit was not specified.
Khatami’s landmark state visit to Moscow is the first since coming to power in May 1997.
The Iranian President was accompanied by a high-ranking political, military and economic delegation, including Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi, Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani and Petroleum Minister Bijan Namdar-Zanganeh.
In a brief declaration to the press before boarding a plane to Moscow, Khatami said the "principal object of the visit to Russia was the establishment of peace in the region," said AFP.
He added that "all subjects" of mutual interest to Tehran and Moscow would be discussed.
Khatami's visit has caught the attention of many countries worldwide, including Iran's arch-foe, the United States which has always threatened Russia not to sell arms to the Islamic republic, said the Iranian News Agency (IRNA).
The visit which takes place at the invitation of Khatami's counterpart Vladimir Putin, is expected to focus on the thorny issue of the legal status of the strategic Caspian Sea, ways of strengthening regional security and establishing a lasting peace in the region, said IRNA.
Former Russian prime minister, Yevgeny Primakov, told IRNA on Sunday that Khatami's visit is the biggest event in the history of Tehran-Moscow relations.
"The visit will have a large impact on Iran-Russia bilateral relations and the regional peace and stability," he said. He said that Russia firmly supports the stance adopted by the Islamic republic toward international terrorism - Albawaba.com
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