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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Howard Will Talk Tough with Putin

APLavrov speaking with his counterparts from Peru and the Philippines at an APEC meeting in Sydney on Thursday.
SYDNEY, Australia -- Australian Prime Minister John Howard said Thursday that he would tell President Vladimir Putin that he would not approve the sale of uranium to Moscow if there was any possibility it could be resold to Iran or Syria.

Howard said he would put Putin "through the ropes" when he meets him Friday in Sydney on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific leaders' forum.

"The condition on our selling uranium is that we obtain the guarantees necessary to satisfy us that it won't go to Iran and Syria," Howard told local radio.

"We will be taking the Russians through the ropes in relation to any arrangement we have, and we will be wanting to satisfy ourselves completely that won't occur," Howard said.

Australia, with 40 percent of the world's reserves of uranium, exports the mineral to 36 nations and hopes to sign a deal with Putin at the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies Western accusations that he is seeking nuclear bombs, saying Iran's nuclear program is meant to generate electricity.

Asked by Australian media whether Russia could be trusted not to resell uranium to Iran, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Moscow was fully aware of concerns about the development of nuclear weapons in Iran.

"I really suspect that the Russians understand the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon," Rice said late Wednesday in Sydney. "Let's remember that Iran is an awful lot closer to Russia than it is to the United State or to Australia. I know that they would be very careful about the proliferation of any material to Iran."

Meanwhile, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator said Thursday that a deal had been struck with Russia on a timetable for the startup of the country's first nuclear power plant, the Russian-built Bushehr facility. The negotiator, Ali Larijani, did not give details on when it might happen.

But the contractor building the plant said talks were not yet finished. "The negotiations are still under way, and we do not yet have results from that so I am not confirming this information," said Irina Yesipova, a spokeswoman for Atomstroiexport.

n Putin may hold one-on-one talks with U.S. President George W. Bush on the sidelines of the APEC meeting Friday, Gazeta.ru reported.

n Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday that Vladivostok would host the APEC summit in 2012, Interfax reported. He said the 2011 meeting would be held in the United States.