Reuters — July 24, 2013
Russian leader Vladimir Putin will meet Iran’s newly elected president in Tehran next month to discuss restarting talks on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, Russian and Iranian media reports said on Wednesday.
The Russian newspaper Kommersant quoted a source close to the Iranian Foreign Ministry as saying President Putin would visit on August 12, days after Hassan Rouhani is inaugurated.
Iran’s Mehr news agency said Putin would travel to Iran on August 16, without citing a source.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined comment on the reports. Putin last visited Iran in 2007 to attend a summit of states bordering the Caspian Sea.
World powers hope Iran’s relatively moderate new leader will comply with demands for Tehran to scale back nuclear work which they suspect is aimed at enabling it to make bombs.
Iran says it is enriching uranium, the fissile material for atomic bombs, only to fuel nuclear power stations and for medical purposes.
Once Rouhani takes office, Tehran’s hardline team in nuclear talks with six world powers is likely to be overhauled.
Although the president holds influence, Iran’s theocratic supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wields ultimate control over Iranian nuclear policy.
The last high-level talks between Iran and six world powers – the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – were held in Kazakhstan in April. They failed to break the deadlock.
Kommersant also cited a defense industry source as saying Putin could discuss an offer to replace frozen shipments of S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Tehran with deliveries of Antey-2500 anti-ballistic missiles, an upgrade of the S-300s.
Russia scrapped an S-300 sale to Iran in 2010 after it came under international pressure not to complete the deal because of the sanctions.
(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel and Alexei Anishchuk in Moscow and by Marcus George in Dubai; Editing by Timothy Heritage and Alistair Lyon)