Putin Upbeat About Chances of Deal with Iran

Russian President tells his Iranian counterpart that there is a "real chance" for a deal over Iran's nuclear program.

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Elad Benari,

Top dog: Russian President Vladimir Putin
Top dog: Russian President Vladimir Putin
Flash 90

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday told his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani he was upbeat about prospects for a deal over Iran’s nuclear program, AFP reports.

Speaking by phone two days before talks between the West and Iran resume on Wednesday in Geneva, Putin "stressed that a real chance has now emerged for finding a solution to this longstanding problem," the Kremlin said.

According to AFP, Rouhani, who has raised hopes for an end to the decade-old standoff over his country’s nuclear program, told Putin that "excessive demands could complicate the process towards a win-win agreement.”

Putin’s remarks echo those of his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, who said on Saturday that there is a “very good chance” of reaching a long-sought deal on Iran’s nuclear program.

“Now there are no fundamental disagreements on the issues that need to be resolved in practical terms,” and what is necessary is to “correctly draw up the agreement we have reached in diplomatic language to make it a truly joint document rather than the one imposed from outside,” Lavrov noted.

Putin’s comments come two days before a visit to Moscow by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The Israeli leader will fly to Russia on Wednesday for talks with Putin, as part of his drive to prevent world leaders from easing the sanctions on Iran.

Israel has repeatedly warned that the deal being offered to Iran is a dangerous one and would allow it to continue its nuclear program.

Netanyahu told CNN on Sunday that the P5+1 powers have offered Iran “an enormous deal” at the talks on Iran's nuclear weapons program, and that the deal would “let out a lot of pressure” while Iran is “practically giving away nothing” and “making a minor concession which could reverse in weeks.”

Netanyahu is currently hosting French President Francois Hollande, whose country prevented a deal with Iran in the last round of talks by presenting a tougher stance than its Western counterparts.

Hollande reiterated on Sunday that that his country would never tolerate nuclear proliferation.

The French leader laid out four demands which he said must be in place for any deal with Iran to be successful.

"France is in favor of an interim agreement but on the basis of four points," he said.

"The first demand: put all the Iranian nuclear installations under international supervision, right now. Second point: suspend enrichment to 20 percent. Thirdly: to reduce the existing stock,” added Hollande.

"And finally, to halt construction of the Arak (heavy water) plant. These are the points which for us are essential to guarantee any agreement," he declared.

In a speech he gave at the Knesset on Monday, Hollande stressed that "we will maintain the sanctions as long as we are not certain that Iran has definitively renounced its military (nuclear) program."