AP: The U.S. national security adviser met with Russia’s foreign minister on Monday, as Washington pushes diplomatic efforts to confront Iran over its nuclear program. Iran’s foreign minister held separate talks in the Russian capital. By JUDITH INGRAM
Associated Press Writer
MOSCOW (AP) – The U.S. national security adviser met with Russia’s foreign minister on Monday, as Washington pushes diplomatic efforts to confront Iran over its nuclear program. Iran’s foreign minister held separate talks in the Russian capital.
National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley met with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other senior officials at the start of his two-day visit.
The United States has been trying to rally support for bringing Iran before the U.N. Security Council for possible economic penalties if it does not provide answers and allay fears about its nuclear program, which the U.S. says is a covert drive to build nuclear weapons.
“We are conducting a wide discussion with Russia on this topic,” Hadley was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency before his meeting with Lavrov.
“Our positions are similar, and we are agreed on the basic points,” he said.
However, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice failed earlier this month to break through Moscow’s opposition to hauling Iran before the Security Council. She did say, though, that Moscow was trying to push its ally Iran back to the bargaining table.
Lavrov and Hadley alluded to the recent series of intense consultations between Russia and the United States.
“We had an opportunity to discuss a number of topical international issues with U.S. Secretary of State Rice in Moscow, including the situation around Iran, Syria and Lebanon. We exchanged views on the situation in Central Asia on the results of Ms. Rice’s trip to that region and ahead of my own trip into the same area,” Lavrov said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki later met with Lavrov on Monday. Russia has urged Iran to resume talks with the European Union over its nuclear program. Talks between Iran and the EU’s three negotiating partners – Britain, France and Germany – collapsed in August after Iran resumed uranium reprocessing work.
Lavrov opened the talks with Mottaki by expressing satisfaction “that our political dialogue is developing intensively.”
Iran insists its nuclear program is for the peaceful purpose of generating power. Russia is building an $800 million nuclear reactor in the Iranian city of Bushehr that is scheduled for launch by the end of 2006.
U.S. officials fear Iran could use the project to help develop a weapons program, but Moscow has dismissed the American concerns. President Vladimir Putin has said he was convinced Iran does not want nuclear weapons, but urged Tehran to do more to prove that to the international community.
Hadley was due to meet with Putin later in the day.
Hadley also said that the United States and Russia had similar views on the necessity of getting North Korea to take steps to realize the agreements reached so far at the six-party talks on that nation’s nuclear program.
“We have common interests here. We understand one another,” ITAR-Tass quoted him as saying.