Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev met his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday on the sidelines of a Caspian forum in Baku, Azerbaijan, to discuss the Iranian nuclear programme and bilateral relations.

Russian television showed the two leaders smiling to each other as they shook hands in front of the cameras. Relations between Russia and Iran ran into rough waters after Moscow backed U.N. sanctions against Teheran earlier this year and scrapped the sale of advanced air defence missiles to Iran.

“It was a very important meeting and the discussion was totally open, with neither side shying unpleasant issues,” Mr. Medvedev's foreign policy aide Sergei Prikhodko told reporters after the meeting.

“The President [Medvedev] spoke of the importance of continuing Iran's peaceful nuclear programme,” Mr. Prikhodko said.

At the same time Mr. Medvedev set out his blunt views on the U.N. sanctions resolution, said Mr. Prikhodko. The Russian leader also spoke in favour of developing relations with Iran, which is a Russian neighbour.

“We are interested in pursuing trade, economic and other contacts that are not covered by the Security Council sanctions,” Mr. Medvedev's aide added.

It was the third meeting between Mr. Medvedev and Mr. Ahmadinejad.

The first two were on the sidelines of the Shanghai regional forum meetings in 2008 and 2009.

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