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Azerbaijan to Release Russian Nuclear Shipment to Iran Soon


Azerbaijan says it will release a shipment of Russian nuclear equipment destined for Iran after holding it about a month.

Azerbaijan's deputy foreign minister, Araz Azimov, said Wednesday his government will resolve the issue soon. He did not say when the shipment will be released.

On Tuesday, Azimov told Iran's ambassador to Azerbaijan the issue is a technical, rather than a political matter. Iran has demanded that Azerbaijan release the Russian cargo.

Russia's embassy in Azerbaijan says the shipment contains heat insulation material for a nuclear power plant that Russia is building in the Iranian city of Bushehr.

Azerbaijani customs officers stopped the cargo on the country's border with Iran on March 29, saying they wanted to make sure it did not violate U.N. sanctions against Iran.

Meanwhile, Russian security officials met Wednesday with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran to discuss international and regional issues, including Iran's nuclear program.

A Russian news agency reported that a Russian official, Valentin Sobolev, forwarded a message from his president, Vladimir Putin, to Mr. Ahmadinejad. The message said Russia plans to continue its relations with Iran despite upcoming political changes.

Mr. Putin's successor, Dmitry Medvedev, will be sworn in this May as president.

The U.N. Security Council has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Iran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. That process can be used for civilian purposes and for making nuclear weapons.

On Friday, London will host talks on Iran's nuclear program with Germany and the five permanent members of the Security Council - the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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