Russian foreign minister to meet with head of U.N. nuclear watchdog agency

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is to meet with the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency amid efforts to restart talks between Iran and European negotiators on Tehran's disputed nuclear program.

Talks with Britain, Germany and France, negotiating on behalf of the European Union, collapsed in August after Iran resumed uranium reprocessing work.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Wednesday that he was optimistic the talks would resume within a month, but voiced his belief that a third party was needed to provide a "face-saving" way out of the impasse.

Washington says Iran's nuclear program is aimed at producing a nuclear bomb, but Tehran insists its program is intended to produce electrical power.

Russia has said it shares the goal of preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear arms capability but differs on the tactics. Moscow has been at the center of the dispute since it is building a €600 million nuclear reactor in the Iranian city of Bushehr that is scheduled for launch by the end of 2006. U.S. officials fear Moscow could use technology provided for that plant for a weapons program, the AP reports.

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