Russia favours U.N. inspections of Iran's nuclear program

The Russian foreign minister said Tuesday that Moscow backs continued U.N. inspections of Iran's nuclear program and played down "minor differences" with EU leaders hoping to keep Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

Moscow will continue to support IAEA inspections as long as no weapons program turns up in Iran, said Sergey Lavrov, speaking after a meeting of defense and foreign ministers of France and Russia.

"We do not want these controls, this inspection work, to be interrupted," Lavrov told reporters at a news conference alongside his French counterpart, Philippe Douste-Blazy.

"As long as there is no proof of the existence of a secret military program, we must support the International Atomic Energy Agency," Lavrov said.

France's and Russia's "voices are not opposed. We are even going in the same direction, but perhaps with some minor differences," he said, without elaborating, according to the AP.

The ministers were meeting to discuss security issues, the fifth such forum that officials call an important part of strategic dialogue between the two countries. They reviewed the fight against terrorism, European security and regional crises.

Douste-Blazy and Lavrov were joined by French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov in the meeting. The defense ministers were also holding separate talks.

Russia has an US$800 million contract to build a nuclear reactor in the city of Bushehr. Russia has trained about 700 Iranian nuclear engineers, and several dozen Iranian experts are in training at a nuclear power plant in the country's southwest.

France, Britain and Germany had been leading EU talks with Tehran over Iran's nuclear program until August, when the negotiations collapsed after Iran resumed uranium reprocessing work.


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