Ahmadinejad hails Turkish premier for supporting nuclear programme

Ahmadinejad hails Turkish premier for supporting nuclear programmTehran - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday hailed visiting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's support of Tehran's nuclear programme and for its anti-Israel stance, state media reported.

"What kind of justice is that an illegitimate state (Israel) has atomic weapons and other countries are deprived from having even peaceful nuclear programmes," Ahmadinejad told Erdogan in a meeting in Tehran.

Ahmadinejad has constantly complained that while Israel has a nuclear arsenal and no cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran is deprived from pursuing a civil nuclear programme despite full cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog.

"Your clear stance against the Zionist regime (Israel) has had a positive impact in the Islamic world and made many nations happy," Ahmadinejad said.

"The fact is that the Zionist regime is a threat to all nations and wants to attach all countries to its territories," he added.

Erdogan was quoted by Iranian media as saying that any country calling for nuclear disarmament should start with itself, before making demands on other countries.

The West fears that Iran might use its nuclear projects for a secret weapons programme and eventually use it against arch-enemy Israel. Tehran has constantly denied the allegations.

A deal between Iran and Russia, the United States and France to exchange Iranian low-enriched for high-enriched uranium from Russia to use in a research reactor in Tehran could ease tensions in the ongoing nuclear dispute.

Iran has agreed in principle but reportedly wants some changes. Tehran plans to submit a final reply before Thursday.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and Iranian parliamentarians have indicated that Tehran preferred to send only part of its more than 1 ton of enriched uranium for exchange, and purchase the rest from abroad.

Ahmadinejad also told Erdogan that regional cooperation, especially between Iran and Turkey, could put an end to Western interference in the region and create a new regional order.

"As far as Iran is concerned, there would be no limit for this cooperation with Turkey," the president said.

Erdogan is in Tehran on a three-day visit to boost bilateral ties aimed at increasing annual trade volume from the current 12 billion dollars to 20 billion dollars. (dpa)