G8 summit decisions crucial for peace efforts in Mideast - Putin

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Russia's president said Sunday that decisions adopted during the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg in July were important for further joint efforts to resolve the nuclear dispute with Iran and conflicts in the Middle East.
SOCHI, September 17 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's president said Sunday that decisions adopted during the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg in July were important for further joint efforts to resolve the nuclear dispute with Iran and conflicts in the Middle East.

Meeting with the parliamentary speakers from the world's leading industrialized nations in the Black Sea resort city, Vladimir Putin said: "It is important that G8's willingness to continue intensive and coordinated non-proliferation efforts was confirmed. Today, this helps us address issues related to Iran's nuclear program."

Iran has been at the center of an international dispute this year over its nuclear ambitions. Some countries suspect the Islamic Republic of pursuing a covert weapons program, but Tehran has consistently denied the claims and says it needs nuclear energy for civilian needs.

Russia has been opposed to imposing sanctions on Iran pressed for by the United States and some European countries, although it has refused to rule out the measure completely.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier this week that the international community had maintained contacts with Iran, and he hoped talks would resume.

Tehran has failed to respond to the international negotiators' incentives handed to it August 22, but media reports say Iran claims it will consider suspending its uranium enrichment program, a condition set by the negotiators, after more talks.

On Sunday, Putin also urged leaders of different religions to show "restraint and responsibility" in an apparent reference to Pope Benedict XVI's remarks about Islam, which outraged Muslims across the world.

"I am sure, the leaders of main faiths will have enough courage and wisdom to avoid extremes in inter-faith relations," the president said.

Russia, which presides in the G8 club this year, has a large Muslim community, and Islam is listed among the country's official religions, although Orthodox Christians prevail in the country.

"We did everything to promote dialogue between the civilizations," Putin said, adding that Russia had hosted a summit of religious leaders ahead of the G8 meetings in Moscow in early July.

The pope outraged the Muslim world Tuesday when he cited a Byzantine emperor who had said that some of Prophet Mohammad's teachings on holy war were inhuman. Benedict has apologized for his words since then.

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