Russia is trying to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue by diplomatic means
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with important visitors a couple of days ago in Moscow. The so-called EU group of three arrived in the Russian capital. The delegation comprised of the British Foreign Minister Jack Straw (Britain holds the current EU presidency), Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik (Austria will take over the EU presidency for the first half of 2006), and the EU Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner. Apart from the mentioned above, the EU Commissioner for Foreign Policy and Security Javier Solana also came to Moscow.
Bearing in mind the number of visitors, Mr. Lavrov said that “the concept of the three does not fully agree with the mathematical reality.
British Foreign Minister had to cut short his visit in Moscow and return to London at the request of the British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The prime minister was apparently mustering all his forces prior to the vote in parliament on a law on terrorist suspects detention. Parliament did not pass the law despite a majority held by the Labor. The government suggested that a detention period for terrorist suspects be extended up to 90 days. Finally, parliament agreed to extend it from 14 to 28 days. Mr. Blair now has to tackle the outcome of the vote which dealt a serious blow on his position.
While in Moscow, British Foreign Minister sounded quite peaceable with regard to Iran's nuclear program though Britain normally sides with the United States which steadily demands Iran should be referred to the UN Security Council. “We do not want that Iran's nuclear dossier be referred to Security Council for possible consideration of sanctions against Iran,” Mr.Straw was quoted as saying.
The Russian side was glad to hear the statement. Russia is trying to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue by diplomatic means. However, one should not overestimate the importance of the statement. In his statement, Mr. Straw also said that Iran's nuclear program could still be referred to the UN Security Council if the Iranians fail to keep the commitments to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The European visitors found a common language in Moscow regarding the Syrian issue. Both sides agreed that Damascus should fully cooperate with the UN in the investigation of the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The commission headed by German investigator Detlev Mehlis has strong suspicions as to the Syrian leadership's involvement in the crime. The commission blames the Syrian authorities for their reluctance to hand all necessary information to the investigators. Mr. Lavrov said that Russia expects Syria to finally start cooperating with Mehlis's commission in “practical terms.”
Meanwhile, it did not seem to be enough for the Europeans to get Moscow's go-ahead to apply pressure on its traditional allies in the Middle East. Benita Ferrero-Waldner raised the issue of the Russian troop pullout from Transdniestr. She also called to join forces and put pressure on the authorities of Belarus and Ubekistan in the name of “common interest” aiming to improve the power system and human rights situation in the above countries.