Iran Nuclear NewsChirac, Putin, Schroeder meet on Iran nuclear issue, security

Chirac, Putin, Schroeder meet on Iran nuclear issue, security

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AFP: Russian President Vladimir Putin was meeting Sunday with French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Russia’s Baltic Sea resort of Svetlogorsk, with Iran’s nuclear programme and international security on the agenda. “A discussion on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, particularly as far as the Iranian nuclear programme is concerned, is expected in … AFP

by Delphine Thouvenot

SVETLOGORSK, Russia – Russian President Vladimir Putin was meeting Sunday with French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Russia’s Baltic Sea resort of Svetlogorsk, with Iran’s nuclear programme and international security on the agenda.

“A discussion on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, particularly as far as the Iranian nuclear programme is concerned, is expected in Kaliningrad,” the region where the summit is being held, a Kremlin official said on condition of anonymity.

Despite US objections, Russia is building a nuclear reactor in Iran for 800 million dollars (615 million euros), which is expected to be operational by 2006, but has agreed to take back spent nuclear fuel rods from Iran to prevent their use in a potential weapons programme.

The situation in Iraq and other global “hotspots,” as well as reform of the United Nations was also on the agenda for Putin, Chirac and Schroeder, the Kremlin official said. France and Russia are permanent members of the UN Security Council, while Germany is campaigning for a seat.

The three leaders will meet again at the G8 summit in Scotland on July 6-8 and Chirac said last week he would take the opportunity in Svetlogorsk to remind Putin to be more active in combatting global warming and providing aid to the third world — two key G8 goals.

The venue for the summit, Svetlogorsk, formerly known as Rauschen, is about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the city of Kaliningrad, which is celebrating its 750th anniversary this year.

The Kaliningrad region, sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, was known as Koenigsburg before the Soviet Union annexed it in 1945 and chased out the ethnic German population.

The Polish and Lithuanian presidents, Alexander Kwasniewski and Valdas Adamkus, said earlier they were “vexed” at not being invited to the meeting.

Among other items on the agenda, Chirac, Putin and Schroeder will discuss the future of the Kaliningrad region and what role it could play in relations between Russia and the European Union. The exclave is now surrounded by EU territory after Poland and Lithuania joined the EU in 2004.

Putin and Schroeder are expected to attend a dedication ceremony on Sunday afternoon where the University of Kaliningrad will officially become Immanuel Kant University, named after the 18th century German philosopher.

The two leaders will also lay a wreath at the tomb of Kant, the city’s most famous son.

Putin is also set to meet Russian business leaders, including Gazprom head Aleksei Miller and Lukoil president Vagit Alekperov, later Sunday. Gazprom and Lukoil are both active in Kaliningrad, which offers special tax breaks to investors.

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