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Russia: Putin Heading Home After Rare Russian State Visit To Britain

London, 27 June 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin is flying home today after a trip to Britain, the first such high-level visit since the 19th century. Putin and his wife, along with Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, will take part in the send-off ceremony at Buckingham Palace, where the Putins spent four days as personal guests.

Putin said after meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday that Russia and Britain have "confirmed the strategic character of our partnership." Putin also said the two sides agreed to continue to press Iran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which monitors the potential development of nuclear weapons.

"I informed the prime minister about the parameters of Russian-Iranian cooperation," Putin said. "We have come to the same understanding of the need to further encourage Tehran to cooperate with the IAEA."

The Russian leader also said Moscow is willing to support the occupying U.S. and British forces in their reconstruction of Iraq, although he called for a legitimate government.