Russia and Iran have agreed to step up civil nuclear cooperation despite the international sanctions imposed on Tehran over its nuclear programme.

The agreement was reached at a meeting between President Dmitry Medvedev and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday on the sidelines of a Caspian summit in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan.

“We agreed to expand our full-blown nuclear energy cooperation,” said Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, commenting on the results of Russia-Iran meeting.

“The two countries' growing atomic cooperation will be fully in line with IAEA requirements and the nuclear non-proliferation treaty,” Voice of Russia radio quoted Mr. Lavrov as saying.

He said Iran's first nuclear power plant in Bushehr built with Russian assistance would be started soon. Mr. Medvedev used the meeting to try and re-engage Tehran, which had angrily reacted to Moscow's support for U.N. Security Council sanctions earlier this year and the cancellation of a deal to sell Russian air-defence systems.

Mr. Ahmadinejad “positively responded” to Mr. Medvedev's pledge, he said. He expressed the hope that the six-party talks on the Iranian nuclear problem may be resumed early next month.