Assassination rumours not to affect Putin's Iran visit : KPS

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Moscow, Oct 15 (UNI) A reported assassination plot will not lead to postponement of Russian President Vladimir Putin's Tehran visit today, the Kremlin Press Service said.

Mr Putin is expected in Iranian capital Tehran this evening for participating in a Caspian Sea summit.

The Press Service did not comment on the alleged assassination plot, saying preparations were on for President Putin's visit.

Russia's Interfax news agency reported on Sunday, citing unnamed sources, that Mr Putin had been warned by his special services of a possible plot to assassinate him during a visit to Tehran. It said security services had been told suicide bombers and kidnappers were training to kill or capture the Russian President on his visit.

However, it did not say who might be behind such groups in the Islamic Republic.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini, however, rejected the reports as a ''rumour'' propagated ''in line with psychological efforts by those who are against good Iran-Russia relations''.

During his two-day visit, Mr Putin is expected to hold discussions with his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and attend tomorrow's summit of Caspian Sea nations.

It is the first visit of a Russian or Soviet leader to Iran since 1943, when Joseph Stalin met Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt in Tehran for a wartime conference.

The Russian leader's trip to Iran will test Russia's ability to wield international political influence amid the ongoing controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear programme.

President Putin stressed during a recent meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates that in the course of his visit to Iran he would continue the current line of work with the Iranian leadership.

The US and France have urged for tougher action against the Islamic Republic, but Russia said it was against unilateral sanctions against Tehran and wanted the Iranian issue to be resolved through dialogue.

It is not the first time the media has circulated reports of assassination attempts against the Russian leader.

In October 2001, Azerbaijan's law enforcement agencies said they had thwarted an assassination plot against Mr Putin during his official visit to Baku on January 9-10. They said the would-be killer was an Iraqi national with links to Chechen militants.

In June 2007, foreign media reported a possible attempt on the President's life during his visit to Turkey to attend the Black Sea Economic Cooperation summit.

UNI

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