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Russia: Ivanov, Iranian Foreign Minister Stress Continued Bilateral Cooperation

Moscow, 5 April 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The foreign ministers of Russia and Iran, Igor Ivanov and Kamal Kharrazi, held talks in Moscow today on continuing bilateral cooperation between their two countries.

At a press conference following the talks, Ivanov said the two sides discussed the final construction phase of Iran's Russian-built nuclear reactor in Bushehr. The project has raised alarm bells in the United States, which says the deal could help Iran develop nuclear weapons. But Ivanov said the Bushehr project is proceeding in accordance with international nuclear guidelines. "We have already underlined that we are working according to all international obligations. All the nuclear programs are under international control -- I mean the nuclear power stations that are being built in Iran with the help of Russian specialists. If someone has concerns about it, we are ready to discuss these concerns. But we don't need words; we need tangible facts. So far, we haven't got any facts [proving impropriety at the Bushehr plant]."

Kharrazi expressed satisfaction with what he considered to be constructive and active dialogue between Russia and Iran. He said cooperation between the two countries is both transparent and legitimate. "I'd like one more time to point out that all the cooperation between Iran and Russia is transparent and conducted according to the standard of international accords. [I'm talking about] military and technical cooperation and cooperation in the field of the atomic energy that will be used only for peaceful purposes."

Ivanov said he and Kharrazi also discussed the issues of international security, terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation. Kharrazi said Iran had denounced terrorism, but also denounces the U.S. stance on the issue. Iran was one of the three countries mentioned in U.S. President George W. Bush's "axis of evil" speech as a nation that may be developing weapons of mass destruction.

The two ministers also discussed events in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. Ivanov said Iran plays an important role in the Asian region. "Contacts [between Russia and Iran] are regular and they are held in the framework of Russian-Iranian political dialogue. This dialogue is, in our point of view, very important, since it helps guarantee peace in the [Asian] region and in its neighboring regions."

Kharrazi today also met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin stressed what he called the "traditional ties" between Iran and Russia.