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RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER DENIES MISSILE TECHNOLOGY TRANSFERS TO IRAN

With Israeli-Russian relations at a low point, Russia's foreign minister denied Sunday that Moscow is helping Iran acquire ballistic-missile technology.

"Russia has and will continue economic and political ties with Iran, but there is no basis to rumors that the Iranians are receiving missiles from Russia," Yvgeny Primakov said, promising that his country was not providing weapons or destructive technology to Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he and Primakov discussed the matter at length in search of "a common basis of fact."

Israel's Channel 2 TV said Netanyahu showed Primakov Israel's evidence of the missile technology transfers.

Primakov is touring the Middle East in hopes of winning a greater role for Russia in the peace process. Although Russia is a co-sponsor of the negotiations, the United States has played a far greater role.

Channel 2 said Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy told Primakov that as long as Russia continued to provide aid to Iran, Israel would resist a broader Russian role in the peace process.

Netanyahu said he was convinced Russia has no negative intentions toward Israel. He stressed that both countries seek stability in the region but said Israel had to defend itself against "a contract taken out on it" by Iran.

Primakov said that Israel and the Palestinians needed to return to the land-for-peace formula and that "Russia will do what it can to help reach a final agreement."

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