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Iran is ready to establish nuclear energy cooperation with other countries, based on the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran's foreign minister said on Friday.

He was speaking during a visit to the western Afghan city of Herat for a conference of the Economic Cooperation Organization.

"Under the watch of the agency (the IAEA), the Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared to cooperate with other countries in the nuclear field with a peaceful purpose," Manouchehr Mottaki said when a journalist asked if Iran was prepared to cooperate on nuclear energy with Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) countries.

"...I emphasize that this (cooperation) will have to be in the framework of the supervision of the international atomic agency," he added.

The United States and some of its Western allies have accused Tehran of trying to build a nuclear bomb and have imposed economic sanctions. Iran says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.

Top officer: Iran sanctions need Russian backing to be effectiveRussian support of increased economic sanctions against Iran is necessary to stop the Islamic regime from developing nuclear weapons, former National Security chief Major General Giora Eiland told Army Radio on Friday.

"Israel's central mistake has to do with its misunderstand of the Russia's relationship with the United States," Eiland was quoted as saying. "In this regard, we could might have served to turn the American attention to the possibility of compromising with the Russians on certain matters, if the nuclear issue is so important to us and to Washington."

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during their talks in Moscow that the Kremlin always takes Israeli security into account when determining its Middle East policy. Still, the Russian leader told Olmert that Russia would not support Israel's push for harsher sanctions on Iran.

Olmert was in Moscow on an unexpected visit to press the Kremlin to support new economic sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear activities and urging Russia not to sell arms to Iran or Syria.

According to a senior defense official involved in the Iranian issue, the prime minister's hastily scheduled visit to Russia stemmed from a situation assessment two weeks ago that discerned a "significant retreat in Russia's position on continued diplomatic activity to impose sanctions on Iran via the Security Council."

During the talks, Putin briefed Olmert on his visit to Tehran earlier this week, while Olmert briefed the Russian president on Israel's intelligence assessments of Iran's nuclear program. Olmert said economic sanctions could persuade Tehran to halt uranium enrichment and its drive to acquire nuclear weapons, but to do so, they must be stepped up.

The meeting came amid mixed signals over the issue from Putin and Russian resistance to a new, third round of United Nations sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

Olmert told Putin that Russia could exert a stabilizing influence in the Middle East, but only by "giving due weight to Israel's security interests."

Putin replied that Russian policy always takes Israel's security into account.

Olmert also gave Putin his assessment of progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track. According to the Prime Minister's Bureau, Putin praised Olmert for his efforts in this sphere and promised to do his best to make the upcoming international conference in Annapolis succeed.

A senior official in the prime minister's entourage said that Olmert was pleased with the results of the meeting. "Russian President Vladimir Putin exhibited great understanding of the Israeli position regarding all matters on the agenda, especially with the Iranian issue," the official said after the talks.

"There was an open and serious atmosphere [in the meeting] and the prime minister is very pleased with the results of his visit," he added.

Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres said Thursday that Iran is developing nuclear weapons to sow war and destruction. "Everyone knows what its true intentions are, and many intelligence organizations worldwide have clear evidence of this," the president said in a press statement. "Even if Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is not convinced that Iran is developing nuclear capabilities for the purpose of war, everyone knows what its intentions are."

"The world must open its eyes wide, before it is too late. Many times in history, it was already too late to prevent man-made horrors and bloodshed. That was the case with Stalin and Hitler, and now, we are approaching a similar situation with [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad," the president continued, adding Ahmadinejad calls openly for Israel's destruction and is investing billions in developing long-range missiles with nuclear warheads.