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. Russian contractor in Iran over delayed nuclear plant
TEHRAN, July 1 (AFP) Jul 01, 2007
The head of the Russian state company building Iran's first nuclear power station was in Tehran on Sunday for talks over the completion of the much-delayed plant.

"The trip involves talks over the completion of the Bushehr plant and resolving the remaining issues. We hope it will be successful," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said of the visit by Sergei Shmatko.

"Ninety-five percent of the work had been completed and the trip is related to the remaining five percent," he said of the plant in southern Iran that Russia's state-owned Atomstroiexport started building in 1995.

The project has been hit by successive delays and mutual accusations that either side were not living up to their financial obligations.

The Unites States, which is leading international efforts to stop Iran's controversial nuclear activities, has urged Russia to halt work on the plant.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Tehran earlier this month that the completion of the plant would require both the Iranian authorities and the Russian contractor to fulfill obligations.

Iranian officials have on occasion accused Russia of being half-hearted in finishing the project at a time when the United States is pushing for more sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme.

In turn, Russian atomic officials have accused Iran of "losing interest" in the project and not respecting their financial obligations under the contract.

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