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Europe

Iran the Topic in Baltic Sea Meeting

Russian President Putin was meeting Sunday with French President Chirac and German Chancellor Schröder in the Baltic Sea resort of Svetlogorsk, with Iran's nuclear program and security on the agenda.

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Iran and international security on on their minds

"A discussion on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, particularly as far as the Iranian nuclear program is concerned, is expected in Kaliningrad," the region where the summit is being held, a Kremlin official said on condition of anonymity.

Iranisches Atomkraftwerk Buschir

Archival picture of the Bushir nuclear power plant in Iran

Despite US objections, Russia is building a nuclear reactor in Iran for $800 million (615 million euros), which is expected to be operational by 2006, but has agreed to take back spent nuclear fuel rods from Iran to prevent their use in a potential weapons program.

The situation in Iraq and other global "hotspots," as well as reform of the United Nations was also on the agenda for Putin, Chirac and Schröder, the Kremlin official said. France and Russia are permanent members of the UN Security Council, while Germany is campaigning for a seat.

The three leaders will meet again at the G8 summit in Scotland on July 6-8 and Chirac said last week he would take the opportunity in Svetlogorsk to remind Putin to be more active in combatting global warming and providing aid to the third world -- two key G8 goals.

Kaliningrad anniversary

The venue for the summit, Svetlogorsk, formerly known as Rauschen, is about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the city of Kaliningrad, which is celebrating its 750th anniversary this year.

Bildgalerie Kaliningrad Dom

Kaliningrad Cathedral

The Kaliningrad region, sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, was known as Königsburg before the Soviet Union annexed it in 1945 and chased out the ethnic German population.

The Polish and Lithuanian presidents, Alexander Kwasniewski and Valdas Adamkus, said earlier they were "vexed" at not being invited to the meeting.

Among other items on the agenda, Chirac, Putin and Schröder will discuss the future of the Kaliningrad region and what role it could play in relations between Russia and the European Union. The exclave is now surrounded by EU territory after Poland and Lithuania joined the EU in 2004.

Putin and Schröder are expected to attend a dedication ceremony on Sunday afternoon where the University of Kaliningrad will officially become Immanuel Kant University, named after the 18th century German philosopher.

Bildgalerie Kaliningrad Fischer legt einen Kranz vor dem Grab Kants ab, Kalingrad

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer lays flowers at the grave of philosopher Immanuel Kant, a native of the city once known as Koenigsberg, to mark the 200th anniversary of his death, in Kaliningrad, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2004.

The two leaders will also lay a wreath at the tomb of Kant, the city's most famous son.

Putin is also set to meet Russian business leaders, including Gazprom head Aleksei Miller and Lukoil president Vagit Alekperov, later Sunday. Gazprom and Lukoil are both active in Kaliningrad, which offers special tax breaks to investors.

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