Putin calls Iran's leader, sees chance to end nuclear row

MOSCOW Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:49am GMT

Russia's President Vladimir Putin takes part in a flower-laying ceremony at the monument to Army General Vasily Margelov as he visits the Margelov Ryazan Higher Airborne Command School in Ryazan region November 15, 2013. REUTERS/Aleksey Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

Russia's President Vladimir Putin takes part in a flower-laying ceremony at the monument to Army General Vasily Margelov as he visits the Margelov Ryazan Higher Airborne Command School in Ryazan region November 15, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Aleksey Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin told Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday there was a "real chance" to resolve the international standoff over Tehran's nuclear programme.

The Kremlin said Putin and Rouhani had spoken by telephone at the Russian leader's request, two days before negotiators from Iran and six global powers hold their next talks.

"...In the context of the Iranian nuclear programme, V.V. Putin underlined that at the moment a real chance has appeared to find a solution to this long-running problem," the statement said.

It did not say how Rouhani had responded, other than quoting him as saying he approved of Russia's contribution to the talks on Iran's nuclear programme.

Putin's upbeat comments followed remarks in which a senior U.S. official said it was possible a deal could be reached when negotiators meet in Geneva from November 20, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also voiced optimism.

The six powers - Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France and Germany - hope the talks can produce an agreement that would be the first step towards a comprehensive deal to end the standoff with Tehran and provide assurances it will not build nuclear weapons. Iran denies seeking a nuclear arsenal.

Putin and Rouhani also discussed the conflict in Syria and expressed support for efforts to convene an international peace conference, the Kremlin said.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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