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    Russian, Iranian leaders call for timetabled withdrawal from Iraq-1

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    (Adds comments on Afghanistan, Mideast, Gaza in paras 4-9)

    TEHRAN, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - The presidents of Russia and Iran called for a timetabled withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq, in a joint statement following bilateral talks in Tehran.

    Vladimir Putin and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also said the unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iraq must be maintained.

    "In support of the government and the parliament of Iraq, elected on the basis of the Constitution, the sides express their hope for a swift end to inter-faction disagreements, which are holding back their work, through all-encompassing, inter-ethnic dialogue," the joint statement said.

    The two leaders also said their countries intended to take part in work to rebuild war-torn Afghanistan after U.S.-led military operations there have concluded.

    "While discussing the situation in Afghanistan, the sides expressed concern over the continuing deterioration in the situation in the country, and the growing terrorist threat from the Taliban and other extremist forces," the statement said.

    Russia and Iran will be involved in strengthening statehood in Afghanistan, and turning it into a peaceful, democratic, independent country, the presidents said.

    On the Middle East as a whole, the leaders confirmed their commitment to fair and all-encompassing regulation of the region's conflicts. They expressed concern over the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories, in particular the hardships caused by Gaza's isolation, and called on the rival factions to negotiate.

    "Reaching an inter-Palestinian consensus and unity is an essential condition for realizing the hopes of the Palestinian people, including the creation of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state," the statement said.

    Putin and Ahmadinejad also called for strengthening stability and security in the Central Asian region, and in the Caucasus, "including through closer cooperation with countries of the region based on mutual interest and respect."

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