Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ufa, thanks Russia for its work on the Iranian nuclear deal. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Thursday (July 9) on the sidelines of the BRICS summit being held in the Russian city of Ufa. Iran and six world powers were close to a historic nuclear agreement on Thursday that could resolve a more than 12-year dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, but they remained deadlocked on the issue of Iranian arms and missile trade. Over the past two weeks, Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China have twice extended a deadline for completing a long-term deal under which Tehran would curb sensitive nuclear activities for more than a decade in exchange for sanctions relief. Russia has strongly rallied in support of Iran in the talks, a fact president Rouhani highlighted during his talks with president Putin. "I must also thank you for all of your efforts towards advancing the program of the 5+1 talks, as well as the personal efforts of Mr. Lavrov in that regard," said Rouhani. Rouhani said he was reluctant to turn down Putin's invitation to visit Russia, despite facing a busy schedule. "Though these days are of course very difficult and intense for me, I could not refuse your invitation to come to Ufa," said Rouhani. Putin said Russia-Iran relations were developing well. "In general, we should be happy how our relations are progressing. But there are always issues requiring special attention on our part, and I'm very glad we have an opportunity to talk about them today." Tehran says the U.N. embargo on conventional weapons must be lifted in a nuclear deal. Western countries are keen not to allow Iran to begin importing arms because of its role supporting sides in conflicts in the Middle East. Russia voiced support for Iran on the issue on Thursday, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying the U.N. arms embargo should be among the first sanctions lifted in the deal. Earlier this week, a senior Western diplomat said that despite Russia's and China's known opposition to the arms embargo and sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile program, they had decided not to break ranks with the West on the issue. Western countries accuse Iran of seeking the capability to build nuclear weapons, while Tehran says its program is peaceful. A deal would depend on Iran accepting curbs on its nuclear program in return for the easing of economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations, United States and European Union. The U.N. weapons and missile sanctions were imposed with Russia's consent nearly a decade ago, but Moscow has become hostile to the idea of sanctions since the United States and European Union began sanctioning it for annexing Ukraine's Crimea peninsula last year. Moscow and Tehran are interested in finishing a deal on the sale to Iran of Russian anti-aircraft missiles. The Kremlin signed a decree in April lifting a self-imposed ban on the delivery of the S-300 missile system to Iran, though the missiles have yet to be delivered.