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"Russia to renew offer to supply S-300s to Iran"

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S-300 air defence missile systems. A file photo.

MOSCOW (AFP): Russian President Vladimir Putin will offer to supply Iran S-300 air defence missile systems as well as build a second reactor at the Bushehr nuclear plant, the Kommersant business daily has reported.

Putin will renew an old offer to supply Iran with five of the sophisticated ground-to-air missile systems at a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rowhani on Friday, Kommersant said, quoting a souce close to the Kremlin.

Putin is set to meet Rowhani at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation held in Kyrgyzstan on Friday.

Russia in 2007 signed a contract to deliver five of the advanced ground-to-air weapons -- which can take out aircraft or guided missiles -- to Iran at a cost of USD 800 million.

In 2010, then-president Dmitry Medvedev cancelled the contract after coming under strong US and Israeli pressure not to go ahead with the sale of the weapons system, drawing vehement protests from Tehran.

The source told Kommersant that Russia's offer would depend on Iran's withdrawing a USD 4 billion lawsuit that it has lodged at an international court in Geneva against Russia's arms export agency.

Kommersant wrote that Putin would offer to supply Tehran with a modified export version of the S-300 systems called S-300VM Antey-2500.

Russia has urged the West to soften sanctions against Iran after the election of Rowhani, a centrist cleric, in June.

The source also said that Putin was ready to sign a deal with Iran on building a second reactor for the Bushehr nuclear plant.

The source said the deal was not "particularly profitable from an economic point of view, but was rather political."

Russia completed the construction of Bushehr, which is Iran's only functioning nuclear power station, despite protests from Israel and the United States.

Iran is at loggerheads with world powers over its controversial nuclear programme, which the Western powers and Israel suspect is aimed at making a bomb despite repeated denials by Tehran.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed to Kommersant that Putin and Rowhani were expected to discuss "working together in the nuclear energy sphere" and "questions of military technical cooperation" in talks at the summit in Bishkek.

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