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. Putin defends nuclear cooperation with Iran
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AFP) Apr 29, 2005
Russian President Vladimir Putin defended Friday Moscow's nuclear cooperation with Iran while warning of the dangers of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.

"We are not against Iran using atomic technology for peaceful purposes and we think that the Iranian people have the right to modern technology in all fields and we intend to fulfill our obligations," Putin said at a press conference in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Putin was speaking the day after holding talks in Israel whose leaders fear that Iran's civilian nuclear programme could mask a secret military agenda.

Russia's decision to help develop Iran's civilian nuclear programme has upset Israel, which is widely considered to be the sole, if undeclared, nuclear force in the Middle East.

Putin, who is trying to rebuild Moscow's influence in the Middle East, said the spread of nuclear weapns as particularly dangerous in the region.

"The spread of nuclear weapons is dangerous in general and in such an explosive region as the Middle East, very dangerous," he added.

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