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. Putin calls for 'diplomatic solution' to Iran nuclear stand-off
LUXEMBOURG, May 24 (AFP) May 24, 2007
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called for a diplomatic solution to the stand-off over Iran's nuclear programme to avoid efforts leading to a "deadend."

"We want all the questions, in particular the Iranian nuclear dossier, to be decided by political and diplomatic means, and not to lead the situation into a deadend," he told a joint press conference here with Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker.

"We will work with our partners, as Russia has done until now. The decisions should not prevent Iran's legal right to develop modern technologies, but at the same time, repudiate all the concerns of the international community about Iran building nuclear weapons," he said.

Washington and its European allies accuse Iran of working to develop nuclear arms under the cover of a civilian energy programme, while Tehran insists its only goal is generating electricity.

US President George W. Bush said Thursday that he would work with European allies, Russia, and China to toughen sanctions on Iran for its defiance of UN demands to rein in its suspect nuclear programme.

Earlier in the day the UN atomic watchdog warned that Tehran could acquire nuclear weapons within three to eight years.

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