Iranian minister in Moscow for tough Bushehr talks

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MOSCOW, Sep 12 (Reuters) Iran's foreign minister was likely to press Russia today to complete construction of its Bushehr nuclear plant at talks that might be strained by Moscow's impatience with Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was due to meet Sergei Kiriyenko, chief of Russia's nuclear energy agency. The agency's subsidiaries are building Bushehr.

Russian contractors have repeatedly set back the completion date for the power station on Persian Gulf, creating tension between Moscow and Tehran.

Moscow blames financial problems for the delays. Many observers say Russia is stalling because it does not fully trust Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and fears an international backlash if it delivers nuclear fuel to Bushehr.

Talks between Mottaki and Kiriyenko are likely to be tough.

Last week Iran's chief nuclear negotiator said an agreement had been struck with Russia on a completion date for Bushehr, but officials in Moscow denied there was any such deal.

The United States and several Western countries believe Iran is using its atomic energy programme as a cover for efforts to build a nuclear weapon. Tehran says it only wants nuclear technology to generate power.

Russia says Bushehr poses no threat of Iran acquiring sensitive technology, but Washington has pressed Moscow to drop the project as part of sanctions on Iran.

Reuters TB VP0447

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