Vladimir Putin: On behalf of the Russian leadership, I would like once again to welcome our dear guest, the President of Iran, to the Russian Federation. Iran is one of the key countries in the region. We have mutual bonds that go many centuries back. And today it can safely be said that Russian-Iranian relations are a significant factor in the world.
We are very satisfied with the results of our talks today. And I would like to confirm that the assessments of the situation in the region and the world given by the Iranian side largely coincide with ours. We intend to step up joint efforts in fighting terrorism and drug trafficking. We have agreed to expand our economic links. And we have noted that there are many opportunities and areas in the field in which our relations could be intensified and developed.
Among these the most promising are cooperation in the field of advanced technologies, the building of energy facilities, notably thermal power plants. Our entire cooperation in the energy sphere is based on universally accepted international rules and norms. And in the future we intend to promote our bilateral contacts intensively in the framework of universally recognised international norms.
I would like to thank all our Iranian colleagues for a very constructive and substantive character of our negotiations. And I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the people of Iran on the approaching Iranian New Year. I would like to wish happiness, prosperity and all the best to the Iranian leadership and all the Iranian people.
Question: What is the outlook for Russian-Iranian cooperation?
Vladimir Putin: I have to say that we have paid much attention to coordinating our efforts in terms of the settlement of the problems in the region.
Our position is that it is above all up to the countries in the region to settle all the problems there. Among the more complicated problems we noted the situation in Afghanistan as regards the spread of terrorism, the production and spread of narcotics, the situation of intolerance of the cultural values of the pre-Islamic period located on the territory of Afghanistan.
We discussed, of course, the Middle East, where the very complex problems can only be solved if all the main interests, both ethnic and religious, are met and taken into account.
We have discussed the Caspian region. I have agreed with Mr President that it would be useful to hold a series of additional meetings before the summit of the Caspian states. We have agreed that any solution to Caspian problems, whatever it may be, must not create new barriers or obstruct navigation and free use of the waters of the Caspian.
I would like to stress that all these issues were discussed in a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. That gives us confidence that we will make progress not only in solving the regional problems that exist, but use all the favourable factors and regional features for the purpose of bilateral cooperation for the benefit of the peoples of Iran and the Russian Federation.
Question: Did you discuss military-technical cooperation?
Vladimir Putin: It has to be said that Russia is a major, but not the major arms exporter in the world. However, Russia is number one in terms of the quality of its weapons. The orders Iran and Iranian partners have placed with Russian arms manufacturers are entirely for defensive arms. Iran does not seek to acquire any weapons that are outside international practice and the corresponding obligations of the Russian Federation in that sphere.
Accordingly, the Russian Federation does not intend to break any of its international obligations. But we do believe that Iran has the right to ensure its security and its defence capability. Russia has an economic interest in this cooperation. And as regards political interests, in our opinion, Iran should be a self-sufficient independent state capable of defending its national interests. All these considerations form the foundation of our cooperation in the military-technical sphere.
Question: Could you speak in more detail about the outlook for Russian-Iranian contacts in the nuclear energy field?
Vladimir Putin: We consider that area of our joint activities to be very important. It is important both for Iran and for the Russian Federation. I want you to note that we are cooperating in high technology spheres, spheres in which the Russian Federation is on the cutting edge.
The nuclear power plant in Bushehr is being built with our assistance. Iran plans to expand its nuclear energy sector, and the Russian Federation is interested in it and would be ready to enter its bids to take part in such work in accordance with international rules.
As regards the Bushehr plant, the project is somewhat behind schedule. We discussed this topic with the President today, looked at what causes the delays and have concluded that they are of a technical character. The lag is due to both Iranian and Russian partners being somewhat slow. We will correct that.
I would like to stress, and my colleague has agreed with me, that all the activities in this sphere can only be based on IAEA rules and proceed under its control.