Russia and Iran will try to resume six-party talks on Iran’s nuclear program, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday after President Vladimir Putin met Iran’s nuclear envoy.
Russia had hoped Tehran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani’s visit would lead to a resolution of the nuclear crisis, but it appeared as though Moscow had failed to persuade Tehran to change its stance on halting nuclear enrichment.
“There is an agreement that our contacts will be continued and, of course, we will work on achieving our common goal — resumption of six-party talks,” Lavrov was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.
The six powers — the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany — made a proposal in June for economic, technological and political cooperation if Iran halted work the West suspects is designed to produce atomic weapons, but Tehran insists is for electricity generation.
Western push for sanctions
They gave an end-of-August deadline to halt uranium enrichment. Iran did not comply and since then the West has been working on imposing sanctions.
“Within days we will resume contacts with the participants of the sextet who offered some ideas to Iran as a basis to negotiations,” Lavrov said.
“Iran has responded to these proposals and we think that with some good will ... there is a possibility to find mutually acceptable grounds for the talks’ resumption,” he added. He gave no details.
Earlier Larijani met Lavrov and National Security Council head Igor Ivanov, with whom he spent five hours in discussion.
On Thursday, Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said Moscow might be able to break the deadlock. But analysts doubted whether the talks had brought the compromise needed.
Vladimir Sotnikov, research associate at Oriental Studies Institute in Moscow, said: “There seems to be no breakthrough in Lavrov’s carefully phrased remarks. It was just another clarification of each other’s positions.”
The United Nations Security Council is trying to reach agreement on sanctions against Iran after it failed to halt uranium enrichment.
The EU draft resolution demands nations prevent the sale and supply of equipment, technology and financing contributing to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
It also calls for a freeze of funds and assets overseas of entities and people involved in Iran’s nuclear or ballistic missile program, among other measures.
Russia, one of Iran’s main trading partners, wants parts of a European draft sanctions text deleted while the United States wants stronger language inserted. Negotiations are likely to continue for some time.
“I do not think the diplomatic deadlock over these negotiations will soon be broken,” Sotnikov said.
Earlier, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohamoud Mottaki indicated in Tehran that Iran might consider a proposal to enrich some uranium in Russia. But he also told a news conference that Iran would not abandon its right to enrich at home.
“Iran seeks to preserve its rights to nuclear technology on its soil, but that does not contradict joint work with others in other areas,” he said.
Russia had proposed building a joint nuclear enrichment facility on its soil to enrich Iran’s uranium to the level used in power stations, which is lower than is needed to make bombs.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Friday Iran’s enemies could not do a “damn thing” to stop its nuclear activities.