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Saturday November 25th, 2017 4:36AM

Putin arrives in Iran for talks with Tehran, Azerbaijan

By The Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Iran on Wednesday for trilateral talks with Tehran and Azerbaijan, a meeting that comes as the Islamic Republic's nuclear deal is threatened by U.S. President Donald Trump's refusal to re-certify the accord.

The talks in Tehran are to focus on regional matters, as well as terrorism and security issues. The three countries all share the Caspian Sea and railway and road projects are expected to be discussed at their meeting as well.

Putin landed at Tehran's Mehrabad International Airport for the one-day meeting. It's his third visit to Iran after previously making trips in November 2015 and in 2007.

Putin also is expected to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters.

The two countries have many mutual interests in the region. Russia and Iran have both backed embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad in his country's long civil war.

Prior to Putin's arrival, Russia's armed forces chief, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, met with his Iranian counterpart, Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, and discussed defense and security issues, Iranian state television reported on Wednesday, without elaborating.

Russia also has helped Iran's nuclear power program, taking part in construction of two more nuclear power reactors in the southern port city of Bushehr, home of the first Iran's nuclear power plant that went online in 2011 with Moscow's assistance. The project is estimated to cost some $8.5 billion, with each reactor producing 1,057 megawatts of electricity.

Moscow has stood by Tehran as well while Trump has refused to re-certify the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers including Russia. The other parties to the accord — Britain, China, France, Germany and the European Union — also have all urged Trump to stay in the deal.

Tehran-based political analyst Saeed Leilaz said Putin's visit to Tehran also can lead to more investment in the oil industry and other infrastructure projects that "may encourage European and Chinese and even American companies to enter Iranian market."

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