Vladimir Putin.jpg
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with US Secretary of State and the Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs (not pictured) at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 14 July 2016.
Photograph: EPA/VASILY MAXIMOV / POOL POOL PHOTO

Russian President Vladimir Putin praised bilateral ties with Iran on Monday after announcing last week that Russia would build eight more nuclear reactors in that country.

Since Putin visited Tehran last year, "we have made a sizable path in the development of our bilateral relations," he told Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at a meeting in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku.

"Our friendly relations are strengthening, and it is encouraging to note that they have a diverse character," Putin said, according to a Kremlin transcript.

Putin, Rouhani and Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev participated in a series of meetings on Monday that were set to boost ties across the Caspian Sea region.

In an interview published by Azerbaijani state news agency AZERTAC ahead of the meetings, Putin said Russia plans to build eight more nuclear reactor units in Iran and also intends to lend Iran 2.2 billion euros (2.5 billion dollars) for financing energy projects.

Russia previously helped Tehran construct its major power plant near the city of Bushehr. In 2014, Russia signed a deal to build two more reactors at the facility.

Rouhani told Putin on Monday that Iran "will never forget the positive role that Russia played in reaching the nuclear agreement," referring to an international deal on regulating the Islamic republic's nuclear programme that allowed sanctions to be lifted.

Rouhani said he was pleased that commerce with Russia has been growing and lauded Monday's meetings as a way to improve relations and strengthen regional stability.

Aliyev also commended Russia's role in seeking peace for the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, over which Azerbaijan and neighbouring Armenia have clashed for decades, with a deadly surge in violence earlier this year.

"I would like to especially underline Russia's role in resolving the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorna-Karabakh," Aliyev told Putin, according to a Kremlin transcript. "We value this role, and your personal participation plays a very important role in the peace process."

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