Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday to discuss “regional issues” even as Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu held crucial talks in Tehran to revive stalled international negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme.

The Kremlin said the Russian and Iranian leaders discussed bilateral cooperation in 2012 and “exchanged views on regional matters.”

“Dmitry Medvedev noted with satisfaction the Iranian President's positive assessment of the Russian initiative -- a plan of gradually restoring faith in the Iranian nuclear program,” the Kremlin press service said in a statement. “The two sides agreed to continue consultations on this question.”

The two leaders spoke a day after the European governments agreed in principle to ban oil imports from the Islamic republic. The United States, which slapped tougher financial sanctions on Iran on New Year eve, welcomed the European move.

Russia has strongly objected new penalties against Iran and proposed a step-by-step diplomatic solution to the Iranian standoff. The plan unveiled by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last November called for rewarding Tehran for every step it takes to clarify outstanding questions about its nuclear programme.

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