Russia insists on diplomatic solution of Iran crisis - 17 April, 2006

Russia will insist on a diplomatic solution of the Iranian nuclear crisis when diplomats from six countries involved in searching for a resolution meet in Moscow this week, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday. "Russia believes the Iranian nuclear problem should have a diplomatic solution. This opinion is invariable and it will be reaffirmed at the upcoming meeting on the Iranian nuclear dossier," Interfax quoted Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Krivtsov as saying.

Political directors of the foreign ministries of Russia, the United States, China, Germany, France and Britain will meet over dinner Tuesday to discuss Iran, a Western diplomat said on customary condition of anonymity. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak will represent Russia; Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, the United States; and Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, China. Discussions of the Iranian crisis are to continue during a Wednesday meeting of envoys from the Group of Eight, the Western diplomat said.

The United States and Britain say that if Iran does not comply with the U.N. Security Council's demand to stop uranium enrichment which can produce fuel for a nuclear reactor or material for a bomb by April 28, they will seek a resolution that would make the demand compulsory. Russia and China, which have strong economic ties with Iran, have opposed the U.S. push for sanctions against Tehran. Russia is building a nuclear power plant in Iran's southern port of Bushehr and has sold weapons to Tehran.

A prominent Russian opposition leader, Grigory Yavlinsky, said Moscow held "a large share of responsibility for preventing negative tendencies and military confrontation" and urged it not to aggravate the situation by delivering weapons to Tehran, Interfax reported. Russia and Iran struck a deal in December for Moscow to supply sophisticated Tor-1 air defense missiles to Tehran, drawing strong criticism from the United States and Israel. The missiles are to be delivered later this year, according to Russian media reports. "Russia is in a position where it can influence further developments in the situation surrounding Iran, including from the military point of view," Yavlinsky was quoted as saying, reports the AP.

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