Russia's Lavrov says Iran should be coaxed into dialogue

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated Russia's opposition to the threat of sanctions or the use of force against Iran on Wednesday, saying that Tehran should be coaxed into dialogue over its nuclear program rather than punished.

"As far as Iran is concerned, just as with any conflict situation, I don't think that efforts to immediately draw up negative scenarios will succeed," Lavrov told journalists. "Before thinking of how to punish Iran in the eventuality that it rejects something or other, we need to concentrate on searching for those solutions which could draw Iran into dialogue."

The comment came as Iran's president disdainfully rejected European plans for incentives to his country to give up its uranium enrichment program, and as diplomats said a six-nation meeting on the standoff has been postponed while the United States lobbies other permanent U.N. Security Council members to harden proposed penalties if Tehran does not stop enrichment.

Russia, which has veto power as a permanent council member, has repeatedly spoken out against coercive measures against Iran. The United States is at the forefront of efforts to introduce a council resolution demanding that Iran give up enrichment, while dangling the threat of sanctions if does not.

Washington seeks to make such a resolution militarily enforceable, something opposed by Russia and China, which continue instead to favor talks meant to persuade Tehran to compromise. But Moscow's diplomatic efforts have failed to persuade Iran to halt uranium enrichment, reports the AP.

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