Lavrov invites Iranian foreign minister to visit Russia.

25/7 Tass 147

TEHRAN, July 25 (Itar-Tass) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has invited his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi to visit Russia, Iranian Ambassador in Moscow Reza Sajjadi told ISNA on Monday.

Sajjadi said this trip might be held within July 23 and August 22 if the Iranian Foreign Ministry confirmed its intention.

According to Sajjadi, the upcoming visit has big significance due to the fact that the Iranian foreign minister has not visited Moscow for the past three years. “The sides will exchange views on bilateral cooperation, regional and international issues. We hope to give explanations on the Russian foreign minister’s step-by-step scheme on Iran’s nuclear programme. Till now we haven’t received any details in this aspect,” the diplomat stressed.

During his recent visit to Washington, Lavrov said Russia opposed the isolation of Iran and new sanctions against that country. “We are against the isolation of Iran. The sides need a dialog rather than new sanctions,” he said.

Earlier, Lavrov said Russia does not see any possibilities to impose additional international sanctions on Iran.

In an interview with Bloomberg Agency, Lavrov said world powers needed to offer to ease sanctions against Iran to get the country to cooperate in resolving the dispute over its nuclear programme.

Talks between Iran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany have stalled since January and Russia believes that incentives are needed to kick-start the process, Lavrov said.

“We have to show to Iran that if it cooperates, if it answers satisfactorily the IAEA demands, then it should see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Lavrov said, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In mid-2010 Iran came under a fourth set of UN sanctions, which Russia supported and were followed by tougher unilateral measures by the U.S. and the European Union. Russia won’t support new sanctions against Iran, Lavrov said.

“It’s a process which can only be successful if we count not on new sanctions and threats, but on negotiations,” Lavrov said.

The IAEA has been probing Iran’s nuclear work since 2003, when it was revealed that the government had hidden atomic research for two decades. The U.S. has accused Iran of seeking to build a nuclear weapon, while Iran says its program is for energy production. Russia built Iran’s first nuclear power plant, in Bushehr, and plans to start full operations at the facility “very soon,” Rosatom State Corporation said on May 26.

In July 2010 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Iran was getting closer to achieving the capability to make nuclear weapons. Iran, the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, is rejecting U.N. demands to suspend enrichment of uranium, which can be used both for generating electricity and for making a nuclear warhead. Negotiations broke down in January after talks in Istanbul between Iran and the so-called Sextet, composed of Russia, China, France, Germany, Britain and the United States.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad President Medvedev to resume talks on Tehran’s nuclear problem.

According to the Russian foreign minister, “the Iranian president took this positively. He confirmed that the Sextet mediators worked constructively to solve the problem. Ahmadinejad said he is ready to cooperate.”

Commenting on the tripartite meeting between the Russian, Kazakhstani and Iranian presidents, Lavrov said Tehran is ready to cooperate with the Sextet, including on Iran’s nuclear programme.

“However, Iran would like to discuss measures to ease sanctions,” the Russian minister said.

According to Lavrov, the Iranian president recognised that the Sextet “is an important instrument with which Iran is ready to cooperate. Moreover, it is ready to cooperate on its nuclear programme. But the Iranian president would like to discuss other issues, including easing sanctions and regional processes in which Iran seeks to take part equally with other states”.

“Such approach reflects the position that the Sextet forwards,” Lavrov said. Russia, he added, “expressed the hope that now there will be no obstacles to resume the dialogue with the Sextet”.

The minister said during the talks, “We heard the Iranian president to assure us that additional measures would be taken to make Iran’s nuclear programme more transparent within the contacts between Tehran and the IAEA”. “The Iranian president promised distinctly that Tehran had no nuclear arms. He said this would be Iran’s official, unconditional and unchanged position.

Lavrov complained that lately the Iranian nuclear problem “has paled into insignificance. Other participants in the talks were too busy in the Middle East and North Africa”. “We are rather concerned over the events in the region and we consider wrong to forget the deadlock in Iran’ s nuclear programme,” Lavrov said.

The six world powers, including Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France, and Germany, still disagree on the need for additional sanctions against Iran. In particular, China has announced that it is not the right time to take any new measures against Tehran, as members of the U.N. Security Council have already adopted five resolutions against that country. Iran is under three sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions for refusing to stop its nuclear programme.

Western countries insist that Iran develops its nuclear programme for military purposes, while Tehran claims it pursues purely civilian purposes.

In June 2008, the Sextet stated a set of proposals that “open up big opportunities for Iran’s broad cooperation with the international community in a number of areas, including nuclear energy”.

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