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    Iran hopes to resolve the issue of its controversial nuclear program in the nearest future, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday.

    (Adds details, background after para. 1)

    TEHRAN, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - Iran hopes to resolve the issue of its controversial nuclear program in the nearest future, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Tehran earlier Tuesday for a two-day official visit, despite an alleged assassination plot against him, to take part in the second Caspian nations summit and to discuss Iran's controversial nuclear program.

    Deputy Spokesman for the U.S. State Department Tom Casey said Monday that the Bush administration hoped the visit to Tehran by President Putin would help to improve relations between the United States and Iran.

    Iran has been under pressure from the U.S. and other Western nations, which suspect the country of seeking to build nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear program.

    On August 21, Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) agreed on a working plan to resolve, by the year end, all questions the watchdog agency has about Iran's nuclear program.

    Six negotiators on Iran - five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany - postponed September 28 a decision on further sanctions against Iran until late November when they expect reports from Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, and IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei.

    Russia has consistently spoken out against sanctions and unilateral decisions with regard to Iran, while Western nations are seeking tougher penalties for the Islamic Republic.

    Putin's current visit is the first visit by a Russian or Soviet leader to Iran since 1943, when Joseph Stalin met with Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt in Tehran for a wartime conference.

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