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Russia, Iran Consider $8 Billion Of New Contracts

July 28, 1999, MOSCOW (AP)--Russia and Iran are considering new economic cooperation contracts worth up to $8 billion, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Aksyonenko said Wednesday after talks with a visiting Iranian minister.

Some of the new deals would involve mining and steel projects, Aksyonenko said after talks with Eshaq Jahangiri, Iran 's minister of mines and metals, the Interfax news agency reported.

Aksyonenko didn't elaborate on other projects, and nuclear cooperation wasn't specifically mentioned. However, the chairman of Iran 's Nuclear Energy Organization, Mohammed Aghazadeh, is scheduled to visit Moscow in August or September, Aksyonenko said.

Iran 's national security chief is also expected in August, and the two sides are likely to sign several science and technological cooperation agreements, Aksyonenko said.

Russia is helping Iran build a nuclear power plant at Bushehr - a project the United States strongly opposes for fear the plant will be used to develop nuclear weapons. Moscow and Tehran both say the plant can be used for civilian purposes only.

Aksyonenko also urged an increase in trade between Russia and Iran , which totaled $546 million in 1998. The volume "reflects neither the two countries' economic potentials nor the level of their political relations," he said.

Aksyonenko and Jahangiri also discussed the division of the Caspian Sea's rich oil resources - a problem that has blocked development of the oil fields - and building a pipeline to export the oil globally.

The three nations with most oil near their coastlines - Kazakstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan - want the Caspian divided into national sectors so they can claim the oil for themselves.

Russia and Iran wanted the sea's resources to be shared by all.

"In the Caspian Sea, Russia and Iran have common strategic interests, so we should be guided by common positions," Aksyonenko was quoted as saying.


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