President Vladimir Putin Welcomes Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to Russia at Press Conference

March 12, 2001

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  • Iran

Putin: I want once more on behalf of the Russian leadership to welcome our dear guest, the President of Iran, to the Russian Federation. Iran is one of the key countries of the region. We are bound by age-old relations. And as of today, I can safely say, Russian-Iranian relations are a noticeable factor of international relations.

We are very satisfied with the results of today's talks. And I would like to confirm that the assessments given by the Iranian side to the situation in the region and the world to a significant extent coincide with ours. We intend to enhance joint work on the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking. We have agreed to expand our contacts in the economic field. And noted that in this area we still have very many prospects, and many areas in which our relations could be intensified and developed.

The most promising of them is cooperation in the field of advanced technologies, in the construction of power plants, in particular heat and power stations. All of our cooperation is being built in accordance with generally adopted international rules and norms. And we intend to develop intensively our bilateral contacts in the future too within the framework of the generally adopted international norms.

I want to thank all our Iranian colleagues for the very productive and pithy character of our talks. And I want to once again use this opportunity to wish the Iranian people a happy New Year according to the Iranian calendar. I want to wish both the Iranian leadership and the entire Iranian people happiness, prosperity and all the best.

Question: What are further prospects for Russian-Iranian cooperation?

Putin: I must say that we have devoted much attention to coordination of our efforts from the vantage point of settlement of the complex aspects which take place in the region.

We believe that the solution of all the problems to be settled is primarily a matter for the countries of the region itself. Of the complicated problems we took note of the situation in Afghanistan, connected both with the spread of terrorism and with the production and distribution of narcotics, the situation connected with intolerance towards pre-Islamic cultural relics on the territory of Afghanistan.

Of course, we also spoke of the Middle East, where the most complicated problems that exist in this part of the world can only be solved on the basis of satisfaction and consideration of all the basic interests: ethnic as well as religious.

We spoke of the Caspian Sea region too. I agreed with Mr. President that before a Caspian states' summit it is advisable to hold an additional number of meetings. We have agreed that any version of the solution of the Caspian problems should not create any new barriers, should not impede navigation or free use of the water area.

I want to stress that all these questions were discussed in a very relaxed, friendly atmosphere. This instills confidence in us that we will be effectively moving not only towards the solution of existing regional problems, but will also make use of all the favorable factors and regional specifics for bilateral cooperation for the good of the peoples of Iran and the Russian Federation.

Question: Were questions of military-technological cooperation a subject of discussion?

Putin: I must say that Russia is a major arms exporter, but does not hold first place in the world. In quality of arms, however, Russia is the number one producer. Requests addressed by Iran and Iranian partners to Russian arms manufacturers are concentrated, wholly and entirely, on arms of a defensive character. Iran does not make any claims on weapons lying outside international norms and Russian obligations in this sphere.

Accordingly, the Russian Federation does not intend to violate its international obligations. But we do consider that Iran has the right to ensure its security and defense capability. For economic reasons, Russia is interested in this cooperation. And the political reasons are that we believe that Iran must be an independent state capable of defending its national interests. All these circumstances lie at the base of our cooperation in the military-technological field.

Question: Please tell us in greater detail about the prospects of Russian-Iranian contacts in the field of atomic power production.

Putin: We regard this area of our joint activity as a very important one. It is important for both Iran and the Russian Federation. I want to draw your attention to the fact that this cooperation is being effected in high technology areas, and more than that, in areas in which the Russian Federation occupies a leading position.

With our assistance, a nuclear power plant is being constructed in Bushehr. Iran has plans for expanding its nuclear power industry, and the Russian Federation, in accordance with international rules, is interested and willing to take part in the appropriate tenders for participation in this work.

As far as the Bushehr facility is concerned, there is some lag behind the project schedule there. We today discussed this theme with Mr. President, looked at the reasons for these delays and arrived at the conclusion that they bear a technical character. These delays stem from a certain amount of sluggishness, on both the Iranian and Russian side. We will put that right.

I would like to especially stress, and my counterpart has agreed with this, that the entire activity in this field can only be built in accordance with the rules of IAEA and under its control.