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Thursday, 28 December, 2000, 14:05 GMT
Russia and Iran open 'new chapter'
Igor Sergeyev (L) and Ali Shamkhani (R)
The Russian (L) and Iranian (R) Defence Ministers in Tehran
Russia and Iran have agreed to launch a new long-term programme of political and military co-operation at the end of a three-day visit to Tehran by Russia's Defence Minister, Igor Sergeyev.

The complete trust between the two countries has created the appropriate grounds for a deepening of bilateral relations

Russian Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev
Mr Sergeyev called it "a new chapter in our relations, marked by the reopening of military co-operation between Moscow and Tehran," while the Iranian Defence Minister, Ali Shamkhani said it was a "historic day".

The ministers announced military co-operation on all levels as well as plans to expand political, scientific and technical co-operation.

They said they had found common ground on a number of regional issues, including Nato expansion and the civil war in Afghanistan.

America rebuffed

Mr Sergeyev's visit, which is the first of its kind since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, comes less than two months after the Russians notified Washington that they were scrapping a secret understanding reached in 1995 not to supply Iran with military hardware such as tanks and submarines.
President Khatami
President Khatami plans an official visit to Moscow

The US has hinted at trade reprisals against Moscow, but nothing has materialised.

During his visit, Mr Sergeyev insisted Moscow would not break international agreements by selling arms to Iran and said any deal would not "prejudice a third country".

Iran has rebuffed any suggestion of co-operation with the United States.

"Iran's attitude is negative with respect to prospects for the resumption of contacts with the United States in the military field," said the Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani, according to the Russian news agency Itar-Tass.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said it had agreed to long-term political co-operation with Russia in central Asia, the Caucasus and the Persian Gulf.

President Khatami of Iran has also said he plans to make an official visit to Moscow.

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See also:

06 Dec 00 | Middle East
US warns on Iran arms plan
26 Oct 00 | South Asia
Taleban warns Russia
22 Sep 00 | Middle East
Iran test-fires rocket
20 Dec 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Iran
26 Dec 00 | Europe
Putin sets out Russia's new role
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