Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani arrived in Moscow Friday for talks on the country's controversial nuclear program. Ali Larijani will meet with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov.
Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, said Ali Larijani would hold talks at his ministry and the Russian Security Council. Lavrov said that Russia - which has repeatedly emphasized it favors negotiations with Iran over punishment - would push for a rapid start to international talks on the nuclear issue.
While Russia has more sway over Iran than European nations that have proposed sanctions to punish Iran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, its influence over Tehran - and willingness to use it - are limited, analysts said.
Moscow has rejected the European-draft sanctions, saying they are too broad and too strong, but Russian nuclear officials have hinted they could postpone the scheduled launch next year of the nuclear power plant they are building in the southern Iranian city of Bushehr - the nation's first.
But analysts said Moscow would draw the line at scrapping the project, which is more than a decade old and worth some US$1 billion, the AP reports.
Russia expected Iran to freeze uranium enrichment and confirm that its nuclear program will remain exclusively civilian, a senior Russian lawmaker said on Thursday, Xinhua reports.
"Russia will expect Iran to pledge to freeze its current (uranium) enrichment program until all queries are clarified," Konstantin Kosachyov, Chairman of International Affairs Committee of Russia's lower parliament, said in a commentary posted on the United Russia Party's website.
"We expect Tehran to provide exhaustive confirmation that Iran's nuclear program is not military, that Iran does not plan to transform the current civilian program into a military one, and that it will abide by the nuclear weapons nonproliferation regime," Kosachyov said.
Russia wanted Tehran to provide detailed confirmation that "it will continue cooperating fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency and ultimately seek a regime of interaction with the world community that would dispel all suspicion regarding its nuclear program," Kosachyov said.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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