PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr President, please allow me to welcome you.
This time we are meeting at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation session in Shanghai, an organisation in which Iran has recently become an observer. I remember Iran's position when Russia declared its willingness and desire to become an observer at the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Today we have yet another forum, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, where Iran has the status of observer. This forum provides us with the opportunity to discuss both international and bilateral issues.
Iran is our long-standing and, without any undue exaggeration, historical partner. Over the past few years our countries' relations have developed increasingly quickly. Of course, our trade and economic relations still lag far behind those with your partners such as the European Union, the People's Republic of China and Japan. But nevertheless since 2000 we have tripled our volume of trade. This is quite a good rate and a good indicator. Our cooperation has many promising areas. They include energy, communications and information technology. And our experts are working intensely in all of these areas.
I hope that today we will be able to discuss our bilateral relations, if even for a short while, as well as discuss the proposals the six countries put forward with respect to resolving issues connected with the nuclear dossier. Russia has always been Iran's consistent, responsible partner. I am confident that you have no doubts on this account. And we would very much like to hear your opinion, dear Mr President, regarding the proposals that were made. In the second half of 2006 we will again meet with our colleagues in the intergovernmental commission and this is a further step towards resolving the tasks that stand before our countries.
PRESIDENT OF IRAN MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: We had a very good meeting in New York during which we discussed the basic issues concerning our bilateral relations. You were absolutely right when you said that our two countries are linked by close historical ties. Both geography, history and politics link us very closely. And from our point of view our relations with Russia are long-term solid relations that are going to develop in all areas.
There is undoubtedly a huge potential for the development of economic growth. And I must point out that we have only just embarked in this process.
The basic directions of Iran's foreign policy concern the East and Iran's neighbours. And as we discussed in New York, we must both make a maximum effort to remove all the obstacles that stand in the way of the development of our bilateral relations.
We have enormous potential for cooperation in regional issues, in the Caspian, in the Middle East and in the Islamic world as a whole. And naturally, in many areas we do not see Russia as our competition. Wherever we can cooperate, if only a little bit, our cooperation must serve the interests of our bilateral relations.
And if we are going to cooperate effectively in the energy sector than we should gain more significant results from this cooperation, for example in the gas sector. We can cooperate closely with a view to defining the gas price and ensuring gas flows, all in the interests of global stability.
Our cooperation in politics and security can have a serious influence on peace and security in the region. Of course the situation in the region is very unstable and has been under constant threat for many years. And these threats which affect the region also affect the countries outside of the Persian Gulf. And if our countries did not cooperate as closely as they do then serious threats would have destabilized the region already a long time ago.
We can also cooperate closely in Iraq, in the Persian Gulf, in Central Asia and in the Caucasus. In any case our cooperation will be in interests of the global peace and security.
I would especially like to thank you for supporting our candidature to obtain the status of observer at the SCO and your position in the settlement of the Iranian nuclear dossier.
I think that you are completely up to date with respect to the nuclear dossier. Mr Ivanov and Mr Lavrov are in constant consultations with my colleagues. And we also discussed this issue in New York. We talked about it once over the phone. I think that our positions are very clear and quite close to one another.
Supporting each other is an integral part of our countries' policies.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr President, in connection with this I would like to point out Iran's very constructive role in resolving all the problems concerning Afghanistan. We have been cooperating on this issue for a long time. And I know from my colleagues that Iran is really doing a great deal to normalize the situation in the country.
You are well aware of our position on the nuclear issue. Today we are probably the only country that cooperates actively and openly with Iran in the sphere of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and completely assumes their obligations. Moreover, we consider that all the countries in the world including Iran have the right to implement their plans in the field of high-tech and to use new technologies to promote their own development. But of course this must be done in such a way so that the international community has absolutely no worries about weapons proliferation. And in connection with this we discussed Russia's initiative whereby we would join forces with you, and even create joint ventures. I consider that we must continue even further in this direction.
In practice we already formulated our proposal about creating a network of international centres to oversee enriching uranium, to ensure that all countries have access to modern technologies, and that all of the countries who want to use these technologies be able to do so under strict international control, first and foremost, under IAEA control. I think that we can examine the problem from this perspective. And that access to these technologies must be equitable, free, nondiscriminatory and that supervision must be effective.
I know that our companies are negotiating the prospect of consolidating their efforts in the oil and gas sectors including the possibility of creating joint ventures. We support our Iranian partners' initiatives in this area.