Image: British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at Berry Bros. & Rudd wine and spirit merchant in London on Tuesday
Sang Tan  /  AP
British Foreign Secretary William Hague, right, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrive Tuesday at Berry Bros. & Rudd wine and spirit merchant in London.
updated 2/15/2011 2:05:37 PM ET 2011-02-15T19:05:37

Russia's foreign minister said Tuesday the U.S. and Western allies should not stir up pro-democracy protests in the Middle East following the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

After meeting with members of Britain's government, Sergey Lavrov warned against any attempts by other nations to fuel public dissent.

In recent days Iran's opposition has taken to the streets of central Tehran, while demonstrators have held protests in Bahrain and Yemen.

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"We are convinced that calls for revolutions are counterproductive. We have had more than one revolution in Russia, and we believe that we don't need to impose revolutions on others," Lavrov told reporters. "We don't think that we need to tighten the screw, or take sides."

Lavrov was holding talks with Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague, and seeking to bolster ties badly damaged by the 2006 poisoning death in London of dissident ex-Russian security agent Alexander Litvinenko. On his deathbed, Litvinenko blamed then-Russian President Vladimir Putin for authorizing his poisoning.

Story: Mideast upheaval timeline

At a news conference with Hague, Lavrov insisted the international community should restrict itself to urging regimes in the Middle East and northern Africa to hold talks aimed at meeting the demands of protesters.

"Only in this way we can ensure the stable evolution into the direction that will be in the interests of each country," Lavrov said.

In response to a question about remarks made by President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Lavrov said Russia believed it was wrong for nations to encourage others to "impose democracy, or some specific pattern, and we hear such encouragement."

Lavrov also criticized Europe, the U.S. and others for imposing additional sanctions against Iran, which go beyond measures agreed by the U.N. Security Council. He said Russia would be unlikely to support any new U.N. sanctions that were not tightly targeted at specific individuals or companies.

"It undermines our joint work," Lavrov said, referring to additional sanctions imposed by the EU and U.S. "If we agree to stick to a collective agreed position, we should not deviate from that."

Though Hague has raised the prospect of additional U.N. sanctions against Iran following failed talks on its disputed nuclear weapons program, Lavrov said Russia could not support them because of their impact on ordinary Iranians.

"Further sanctions would mean the creation of social problems for the population. We would not be able to support them," he said.

However, the ministers signed a treaty agreeing to upgrade a secure communications link between London's Downing Street and the Kremlin, Hague said. He confirmed plans for greater collaboration on thwarting organized crime and projects aimed at tackling the radicalization of young Muslims.

Hague and Lavrov later sealed their meeting with a whisky tasting at exclusive wine merchant Berry Bros. and Rudd. They confirmed Cameron will visit Moscow later this year on the invitation of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

"Our countries continue to see a steady, patient improvement in relations. It will take time, there will be no giant leaps," Hague said. He acknowledged the two countries still have major disagreements on some issues.

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Hague's ministry confirmed there would be no change on Britain's policy of not cooperating with Russia's Federal Security Service, the main successor to the feared Soviet KGB, and known by its Russian language acronym, the FSB.

The U.K. broke off ties between its intelligence agencies and the FSB following Litvinenko's death.

Russia has repeatedly refused to grant British requests for the extradition of the chief suspect in the case, ex-KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi. In turn, Moscow accuses Britain of refusing to turn over dozens of alleged criminals to Russia.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Egypt’s revolution ripples across the Middle East

  1. Closed captioning of: Egypt’s revolution ripples across the Middle East

    >> the latest on the uprising in egypt that led to protest in bahrain , yemen .

    >> lawmakers appeared determined to stop demonstrators before they gained momentum. we'll get the late nest a live report ahead.

    >> also ahead, breaking news overnight from italy. the italian prime minister has been ordered to stand trial for allegedly paying for sex with a 17-year-old girl and then trying to cover it up. we'll have details on the story as well.

    >> plus, we'll meet the cover model for the sports illustrated swim suit issue when she stopped by for her first interview since learning the big news.

    >> a huge event in the life of a model. she's already pretty famous.

    >> in your life.

    >> come february, after the super bowl , baseball hasn't started yet.

    >> we'll begin with the ripple effect from protests in egypt and other parts of the middle east . richard engel is in cairo with the latest. good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning. the iranian opposition has been energized and inspired by what happened here in egypt , but the government in iran is determined not to allow any new protests, calling them riots. thousands demonstrated on monday in sole dare ti with egypt and to apparently restart an uprising crushed by the iranian government after disputed elections in 2009 . iran is determined not to allow a new round of protests to take root. nbc's tehran bureau chief reported from the bureau in the iranian capital.

    >> they tried to disperse the crowds but the crowd wouldn't go away. the protesters tried to make their way to freedom square to try to emulate the sit-in at tahrir square. they were confronted by the militia who beat them back. today, members of iran 's parliament called for the execution of opposition leaders.

    >> reporter: iran 's new round of demonstrations are just one of a growing number in the region inspired by egypt . on the tiny island nation of bahrain , home to the u.s. navy 's fifth fleet, thousands of protesters opposing the monarchy clashed with riot police for a second day. two people have been killed already in the unrest here including one ott a funeral. the deaths raised the chances of further unrest that could open a painful sectarian divide, all too familiar in the middle east . bahrain has a sunni monarchy but a 70% shiite population, almost the same split as in iraq. in yemen at the tip of the arabian peninsula , protests continue for a fifth day. like in egypt , yemen 's demonstrators want to topple their president of three decades, accusing him of corruption, but yemen is more unstable than egypt . yemen is already fighting two civil wars and has an active al qaeda cell that sent mail bombs to the united states last october on cargo planes. a collapse of the u.s.-backed yemen government could lead to anarc anarchy. in egypt , the protests are over. the army has taken control, removed demonstrators from the square and promises to transition to democracy over the next six months. the demonstrators who organized the revolution in egypt tell us they are in contact with other protesters around the region offering advice and support. meredith?

Interactive: The Egypt effect


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