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. Russian FM visits Iran with atomic ambition on agenda
TEHRAN (AFP) Oct 10, 2004
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Tehran Sunday for talks expected to focus on Iran's stand-off with the UN's nuclear watchdog and possible preparations for a visit here by the Russian president.

Lavrov, who will be in Tehran for two days, is lined up for talks with his counterpart Kamal Kharazi as well as Iran's top national security official and nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani, officials here said.

Russia is currently helping Iran build its first nuclear power station in the southern city of Bushehr, but is under almost daily diplomatic pressure from the United States to abandon the 800-million-dollar deal.

But Moscow is also eager to see Iran cooperate with demands from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has called on the Islamic republic to suspend certain sensitive aspects of its nuclear programme.

Iranian non-compliance with the IAEA demand to widen its suspension of uranium enrichment-related activities could see the country hauled before the UN Security Council, a step that would threaten the Bushehr deal.

Russia has said on several occasions that it will continue its nuclear cooperation with Iran as long as the nation complies with the IAEA.

The US alleges Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies, and wants Iran referred to the security council in November.

Officials in Moscow said last week that Lavrov's visit could also finalise a visit to Iran by Russian President Vladimir Putin "in the foreseeable future".

During his visit, Lavrov is also due to discuss a series of economic projects with Iran as well as possible ways of cooperating to fight international terrorism.

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