Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is going ahead with his planned trip to Iran, despite reports of an assassination plot against him in that country. VOA Moscow Correspondent Peter Fedynsky has details.
Speaking at a news conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Wiesbaden, Germany, Russian President Vladimir Putin laid to rest speculation he may delay or cancel his trip to Iran following reports that suicide attackers there would try to assassinate him.
"Obviously I am going to Iran, because if I listened to all of the security recommendations and threats against me, I would never leave home," said Mr. Putin.
The Interfax news agency reported the plot on Sunday based on information from Russian special services. The Kremlin leader is traveling to Iran for a summit of Caspian Sea nations.
Commenting on Tehran's controversial nuclear program, the Russian leader said it is important to engage the leaders and people of Iran in a direct dialogue on the issue, counting on a mutually positive result.
Heightened interest in the Russian president's trip follows his recent meetings with the leaders of France and Germany, as well as the U.S. secretaries of state and defense. All of them raised objections with Mr. Putin about Iran's nuclear program, which many Western countries say is aimed at producing a nuclear bomb.
The Russian president says Tehran's program must become more transparent, although he claims there is no objective evidence of a bomb program
Alexander Konovalov, Director of the Institute for Strategic Assessments in Moscow, told the VOA that Mr. Putin is in a position to tell Tehran that the international community, including Russia, opposes development of an Iranian nuclear bomb.
Konovalov says that will likely be Mr. Putin's primary message to Iran. He will also, according to the analyst, try to convince that country that a nuclear bomb is not in Iran's best interests.
Tehran claims its nuclear program is for civilian power plants, but it insists on its own nuclear enrichment, which raises suspicions about Iranian intentions. Highly enriched uranium can be used to build a nuclear bomb.
Mr. Putin's visit to Iran will be the first by a Kremlin leader since Josef Stalin's Tehran war-time summit in 1943 with American President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.