Russia informs diplomats' trip not attempt to influence Iran

Russia's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that a trip by Russian and Chinese diplomats to Tehran should not be seen as an attempt to pressure Iran over its nuclear program. The joint Russian-Chinese diplomatic team that traveled to Iran Wednesday will try to "explain the situation and persuade the Iranian colleagues," ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said.

"It is impossible to put pressure on a sovereign nation," Kamynin was quoted as saying in London by Russian news agencies. Also Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone with U.S.

President George W. Bush, discussing the situation surrounding Iran's nuclear programs. The Kremlin said in a statement that the two also discussed nuclear nonproliferation issues and Russian-U.S. cooperation.

Kamynin said the diplomats would inform the Iranians of the results of talks earlier this week in London among the United States, the European Union, Russia and China and "explain international concerns about the Iranian nuclear program."

China and Russia, longtime allies and trading partners of Iran, on Tuesday joined France, Britain and the United States in calling on the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to transfer the Iran dossier to the U.N. Security Council.

Russia and China's backing for a move to the Security Council surprised observers because they have consistently counseled caution on Iran's nuclear file. Both have major economic ties with Iran. While Moscow and Beijing backed the Western push for handing over the Iranian nuclear issue to the United Nations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov emphasized Tuesday that the Security Council will not make any immediate decisions.

Lavrov's statement demonstrated Russia's reluctance to back the U.S. push for sanctions against Iran and highlighted Moscow's attempts to drag out the negotiation process in hopes that Iran might accept Moscow's offer to enrich its uranium on Russian territory.

The EU and the U.S. have backed Russia's proposal to enrich uranium for Iran as a possible way out of the impasse. Iran's top nuclear negotiator visited Moscow last week to discuss the proposal and said it needs more work. The Russian proposal could provide more oversight and ease fears that Tehran is using its pursuit of atomic power as a front for a nuclear weapons program, reports the AP.


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