Bush, Putin Talks To Focus On Iran 's Nuclear Program
Dow Jones Newswires:
Iran 's nuclear program is likely to be one of the top issues when the Russian leader and U.S. President George W. Bush meet next Thursday in Slovakia and Putin has indicated that the chance of agreement with Washington is minimal.
"The spread of nuclear weapons on the planet does not aid security, it does not strengthen security. The latest steps from Iran confirm that Iran does not intend to produce nuclear weapons and we will continue to develop relations in all spheres, including the peaceful use of nuclear energy," Putin said.
"We hope that Iran will strictly adhere to all international agreements, in relation to Russia and the international community," Putin said.
"We will continue to develop relations in all spheres, including the peaceful use of nuclear energy," Putin said.
He also said that Iran 's leadership had invited him to visit, and he accepted. Russian news agencies said that no date has been set.
A Russian analyst questioned whether Putin's statement was based on actual information or on expediency.
"To my mind, it's hard to find arguments to support Putin's declaration," said Anton Khlopkov, director of the PIR Center which studies weapons issues. He noted that "Iran is potentially an important strategic partner for Russia...(with) a whole series of coinciding interests."
Russia's nuclear chief is expected in Iran next week to sign a protocol on returning spent nuclear fuel to Russia, the only remaining obstacle to the launch of the Russian-built reactor. If the signing goes ahead as planned Feb. 26, it would pave the way for the deliveries of Russian nuclear fuel for the Bushehr reactor, which is set to begin operating in early 2006. ...