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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia reassures over security talks with Iran

RIA Novosti

28/04/2008 18:06 (Changes headline, recasts throughout, adds talks details in paras 9-12)

TEHRAN, April 28 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian government official issued a statement on Monday reassuring Iran's critics that ongoing security consultations between Russia and Iran are of a peaceful nature, and do not threaten any other countries.

Iran is under three rounds of United Nations Security Council sanctions over its controversial nuclear program, widely feared to be a cover for weapons production. Some countries also accuse Iran of developing long-range ballistic missiles.

Valentin Sobolev, who serves as the acting head of Russia's Security Council, said after talks in Iran: "Our negotiations are of a peaceful nature and are not directed against any third countries."

The official arrived in Tehran on Sunday with a Russian delegation to meet with Iranian government officials including the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili.

The visit is a follow-up to Jalili's trip to Moscow in December 2007.

Sobolev said the talks were proceeding "in the spirit of mutual understanding and mutual respect," and were aimed at "advancing Iranian-Russian relations."

Jalili said Iran would soon present "an array of proposals" designed to deal with global problems, including comprehensive initiatives on political and security issues, and measures to promote nuclear nonproliferation.

Iran's Security Council said the discussions would include Iran's nuclear program and the situation in the Middle East.

Sobolev and Jalili agreed to continue talks on Tuesday.

"Following our discussions a decision was made to continue talks. A second, and possibly a third, round of consultations is expected," Jalili told reporters.

Sobolev is also due to meet later on Monday with Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, Iran's vice president who heads the national Atomic Energy Organization.

The Russian delegation is expected to round up its visit on April 30.

A delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency, led by its deputy director general, Olli Heinonen, is to arrive in Tehran later on Monday to continue talks started last week on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said last week that Iran was prepared to try and reach an agreement with any country over its nuclear program, but would not bow to pressure to halt its development of peaceful nuclear power.

Russia is Iran's main nuclear partner, and has almost completed the country's first nuclear plant, in Bushehr. China, which also has strong business interests in Iran, has joined Russia in blocking stronger sanctions against the country, using their vetoes at the UN Security Council.

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