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. Putin, Ahmadinejad discuss Mideast violence, Iran nuclear problem
MOSCOW, July 26 (AFP) Jul 26, 2006
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart Mahmud Ahmadinejad held telephone talks late Tuesday on violence in the Middle East and the Iranian nuclear problem, the Kremlin said.

"The crisis in Lebanon was at the center of the talks," the Kremlin press service said, adding that "various aspects of resolving the Iranian nuclear problem were also discussed."

"In both cases Vladimir Putin stated Russia's principal position," the press service said, adding that the telephone talks were initiated by Tehran.

Russia earlier said it could agree to sanctions against Iran if the Islamic Republic fails to answer proposals for resolving the current nuclear crisis.

The proposals put to Iran were presented by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany in June. They offer trade, political and economic incentives.

The lack of response from Iran has led to renewed discussion of the issue in the Security Council.

The United States has led calls for Iran to suspend sensitive nuclear fuel cycle work, suspecting that Tehran's stated desire for peaceful nuclear energy is a cover for a weapons programme.

Russia is a close ally of Iran and is building the Islamic Republic's first nuclear power station at Bushehr, a project the US has said should be halted.

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