Unidentified International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors and Iranian technicians are on hand to cut the connections between the twin cascades for 20 percent uranium enrichment at Natanz facility, some 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. Iran has halted its most sensitive uranium enrichment work as part of a landmark deal struck with world powers, state TV said Monday. The broadcast said Iran halted its 20 percent uranium enrichment, which is just steps away from bomb-making materials, by cutting the link feeding cascades enriching uranium in Natanz. (AP Photo/IRNA, Kazem Ghane)
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin told Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday there was a "real chance" to resolve the international standoff over Tehran's nuclear program.
The Kremlin said Putin and Rouhani had spoken by telephone at the Russian leader's request, two days before negotiators from Iran and six global powers hold their next talks.
"...In the context of the Iranian nuclear program, V.V. Putin underlined that at the moment a real chance has appeared to find a solution to this long-running problem," the statement said.
It did not say how Rouhani had responded, other than quoting him as saying he approved of Russia's contribution to the talks on Iran's nuclear program.
Putin's upbeat comments followed remarks in which a senior U.S. official said it was possible a deal could be reached when negotiators meet in Geneva from November 20, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also voiced optimism.
The six powers - Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France and Germany - hope the talks can produce an agreement that would be the first step towards a comprehensive deal to end the standoff with Tehran and provide assurances it will not build nuclear weapons. Iran denies seeking a nuclear arsenal.
Putin and Rouhani also discussed the conflict in Syria and expressed support for efforts to convene an international peace conference, the Kremlin said.
(Writing by Steve Gutterman, Editing by Timothy Heritage)