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Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Tehran on October 16,

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User ID: 301231
United Kingdom
09/21/2007 09:58 AM
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Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Tehran on October 16,
Russia bolsters ties with Iran
By M K Bhadrakumar

Relations between Russia and the United States will be put to the severe test in the coming weeks as there are growing signs that the US has decided, or has almost decided, to launch a military strike against Iran.

Russian observers do not rule out that the administration of US President George W Bush is yet to think through its policy on Iran, and the spate of media "leaks" keeps Tehran and the world community guessing. They analyze that a US military intervention would become inevitable unless Iran relented in its regional policy in Iraq. It is inconceivable for the US to leave its Arab allies in the region to face Iran single-handed.

But then, Russian experts do not visualize that the US has reached anywhere near the point where it can claim the security situation has been stabilized and political reconciliation achieved, which would allow a complete withdrawal of troops. On the contrary, they see the situation in Iraq continuing to deteriorate.

Moscow would weigh that the real US agenda is aimed at "regime change" in Iran. Washington has more or less ensured that all military equipment (three aircraft-carrier battle groups) necessary for an air and sea strike against Iran are already in position in the Persian Gulf. The Bush administration has launched a concerted campaign for mobilizing domestic opinion in the US for an attack on Iran.

Bush has a new cockiness about him, and Moscow wouldn't be the only capital to notice. He has certainly lost his fear of the Democrat-dominated Congress on Capitol Hill. To be sure, he is step-by-step making a case for war. Commentator Patrick Buchanan wrote recently, "Confident of victory this fall on the Hill, Bush is now moving into Phase III in his 'war on terror': first Afghanistan, then Iraq, then Iran."

In Moscow's perception, therefore, the next two to three months will be most critical, even as Iran's cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) enters a crucial phase.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to go ahead with his visit to Tehran on October 16, much to the chagrin of Washington. The visit is in connection with the summit of the Caspian states (Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Iran) that is to take place in Iran, but Putin is scheduled to hold "bilaterals" as well with the Iranian leadership. This will be Putin's first visit to Iran.

[link to www.atimes.com]
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