Russia supports a peaceful Iranian nuclear program, Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Iranian counterpart, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on Thursday.

Putin's comments came on the sidelines of a Beijing conference of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), made up of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

"We have always supported the right of the Iranian people to modern technologies, including the peaceful use of atomic energy," AFP quoted Putin as saying on the sidelines of a regional summit in China.

"But I want to emphasize that it is peaceful that we are talking about. You know our position," he added.

In a statement issued earlier in the day by the SCO, the group stated that "any attempts to solve the Iranian problem by force are not acceptable and lead to unpredictable consequences, threatening stability and security in the region and in the world as a whole." Iran, together with India and Pakistan, attends SCO summits, but not as a full member.

Western countries have been avoiding any explicit recognition of an Iranian right to nuclear power, saying Tehran had no automatic right to enrich uranium because of its previous violations of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday that major powers want Iran to come to nuclear talks ready to take steps to curb its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity, a level that brings it closer to developing bomb grade material.

"We want them to come prepared to take concrete steps, particularly in the area of 20 enrichment," Clinton told reporters, referring to a meeting on Iran's nuclear program to be held on June 18-19 in Moscow.

Iran maintains that under its membership of the NPT, it can develop a full nuclear fuel cycle for peaceful purposes including the preparation and enrichment of uranium.

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Earlier this week, an adviser to Iran's supreme leader urged world powers to formally recognize its nuclear rights to bring about a "favorable result" at talks on its atomic program later this month. "I hope the P5+1 group recognizes Iran's inalienable nuclear right within the framework of the NPT and refrains from sitting on the sidelines," IRNA quoted Ali Akbar Velayati as saying.

"By accepting Iran's right to use peaceful nuclear energy, the forthcoming talks in Moscow should reach a favorable result."

Reuters contributed to this report.