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. Putin admits concern over Iran nuclear program
MOSCOW, Dec 8 (AFP) Dec 07, 2006
Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted Thursday that Russia was "concerned" over Iran's nuclear program and urged Tehran to an "active and transparent cooperation" with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"One cannot say that the IAEA does not have serious questions on certain aspects of Iran's past nuclear activity," Putin said in an interview with the Mexican publisher Mario Vasquez Rana.

"The IAEA cannot as yet confirm the absence of undeclared (i.e. military) nuclear activities. All this sparks concern as to the purposes of this country's nuclear program," Putin said.

"Our efforts... are aimed at having Iran clarify the remaining questions in an active and transparent cooperation and dialogue with the IAEA. Thus it would restore trust in the peaceful character" of its program, the Russian leader added.

Political directors from Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- the UN Security Council's permanent members -- and Germany met in Paris late Wednesday to talk about what action to take against Iran, which defied a UN deadline of August 31 to cease enriching uranium.

Russia and China -- which have strong economic interests in Iran -- have tried to water down a draft Security Council resolution drawn up by France, Britain and Germany, while the United States has sought to harden it.

According to diplomats in Paris, Russia is willing to back the trade ban against Iran, but remains opposed to sanctions being applied to individuals, though it will accept a ban on shipments of sensitive goods.

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