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. Belarus president visits ally Tehran for talks
TEHRAN, Nov 5 (AFP) Nov 05, 2006
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko arrived in Tehran late Sunday accompanied by economic and political advisors for two days of talks with Iranian officials, the IRNA state news agency said.

Lukashenko, whose country has previously expressed its support for Iran's development of a civil nuclear program, was due to meet with President Mahmud Ahmadinejad on Monday.

The visit is aimed at "bolstering official relations... and advancing several large-scale economic projects," Belarussian Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov said Saturday after a visit to the Iranian capital.

Iran and Belarus "have the same outlook on current international matters, world problems and means of resolving them," Martinov added.

Iran has close relations with the impoverished former Soviet republic, shunned by the West for Lukashenko's authoritarian regime.

Despite fierce Western criticism, Belarus has sold Russian-made conventional military equipment and spare parts to Iran.

Lukashenko's visit also coincides with war game exercises in Iran which have seen the launch of longer-range missiles and new types of land-to-sea and sea-to-sea missiles.

The maneuvers also come against a backdrop of rising international tension over Iran's nuclear program, with the United States leading a drive for UN sanctions against Tehran over its failure to suspend uranium enrichment.

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