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Israeli PM Olmert to talk Iran, Mideast in Moscow Thursday-1

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Israel's prime minister arrives in Moscow Thursday to discuss Iran's nuclear ambitions and a peace conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the U.S. later this year, the premier's spokesperson said Wednesday.
(Recasts para 3, adds background in para 4, details in para 6)

TEL AVIV, October 17 (RIA Novosti) - Israel's prime minister arrives in Moscow Thursday to discuss Iran's nuclear ambitions and a peace conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the U.S. later this year, the premier's spokesperson said Wednesday.

Israel, anxious about Iran gaining access to unconventional weapons, has urged Russia to use its influence to help solve the international standoff surrounding the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. Tehran insists its program is for energy production.

Ehud Olmert's meeting with President Vladimir Putin will take place two days after his talks with the Iranian leader in Tehran, where the Russian leader appeared to show support for the country's nuclear efforts, saying they were in line with the non-proliferation regime.

Russia, which is building a nuclear power plant in Iran, has long been criticized for assisting in the country's nuclear activities. Russia, along with China, has been opposed to tougher sanctions on Tehran in the UN Security Council.

During his previous visit to Moscow last October, which marked 15 years since the two countries restored diplomatic ties, Olmert secured the Kremlin's assurances to step up control over Russian arms exports to prevent them from being sold to third countries. Tel Aviv claimed Islamic radicals in Lebanon had used Russian antitank missiles meant for Syria in attacks on Israel.

Olmert will fly to Russia the next day after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has visited the Jewish state for discussions with regional leaders ahead of the peace conference planned for November-December in Annapolis, Maryland.

The conference is expected to result in a framework agreement on peace efforts. The Israelis want the document to set out broad settlement principles, while Palestinians seek specific terms and conditions. Their differences threaten the success of the conference.

Talks between the Jewish state and the Palestinians were resumed when PNA leader Mahmoud Abbas broke with Hamas following the seizure of the Gaza Strip by the Islamist group, which left the president and his Fatah forces only in control of the West Bank.

The United States would like other key Arab states to attend the conference, but Arab nations are skeptical and have demanded more details.

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