Medvedev, Ahmadinejad discuss nuclear energy ties

Kremlin says leaders spoke by phone, agreed Busheher promising area of cooperation; Russian president expected to tour Jordan, W. Bank.

MEDVEDEV 311 (photo credit: AP)
(photo credit: AP)
MOSCOW — The Kremlin says President Dmitry Medvedev has discussed nuclear energy cooperation with his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
A Kremlin statement says the presidents spoke by telephone Monday and agreed that Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, a project completed with Russian help but beset by years of delays, is one of the most promising areas of cooperation.
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The United States and its allies fear that Iran is trying to make nuclear weapons, not nuclear energy, while Tehran asserts it is enriching uranium to make nuclear fuel and not weapons and says it will not negotiate over its right to enrich for peaceful uses.
Later this week, Iran will meet world powers in Istanbul over its disputed nuclear program.
On Tuesday, Medvedev was expected to only gaze at Israel from Jordan and Jericho, as he is unable to cross into the country because of Foreign Ministry diplomatic workers’ sanctions.
While it is not unusual for top world leaders to visit Israel and pass over a visit to the Palestinian Authority, it is very unusual for them to do the opposite – visit the PA and not come to Israel.
This, however, was set to be the case on Tuesday, since Medvedev's trip to Israel was canceled at the Foreign Ministry's request when it became clear that ministry workers would not have provided the logistical help needed to make his visit – originally planned to include an entourage of 300- 400 people – a success.
Rather than come on a journey to Israel that could be fraught with logistical embarrassments, it was decided to postpone the trip. Medvedev did not, however, postpone the other two legs of what was scheduled to be a regional visit that included stops in Jordan and the West Bank.
Medvedev, whose delegation will be considerably smaller than originally planned, is scheduled to arrive in Amman on Tuesday, and from there proceed across the Allenby Bridge to Jericho. There he will meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and be present at the opening of the Jericho Museum, built on land originally owned by Czarist Russia but abandoned after the Communist Revolution and handed back in 2008, much as was the case with the Sergei Courtyard in Jerusalem.
Medvedev is scheduled to return to Jordan after his meetings in Jericho, for meetings with King Abdullah and the Jordanian leadership. He is expected to leave the region on Wednesday.
Medvedev has not traveled to Israel as Russia’s president, and his planned visit to the country was seen as extremely important at a time of growing regional volatility and stagnation in the peace process. His predecessor, Vladimir Putin, visited Israel in 2005.
Rather than meeting Israeli leaders in Jerusalem, however, Medvedev will now suffice with meeting President Shimon Peres later this month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Russia is one of the four members of the Middle East Quartet, along with the US, EU and UN. This body is scheduled to hold a meeting at the level of foreign ministers on February 5 in Munich to discuss the diplomatic process.