WASHINGTON - The United States denied on Thursday a Russian media report that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had asked Russia to warn Iran that it was facing its "last chance" to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program diplomatically.
"The secretary did not send a warning to the Iranians through (Russian) Foreign Minister (Sergei) Lavrov," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters when asked about a report on Wednesday in the Moscow daily Kommersant.
Asked if Clinton had used the word "last" in talks with Lavrov on Monday, Nuland replied: "She didn't use that adjective in her meeting."
The well-connected Russian newspaper quoted a Russian diplomatic source as saying the United States had asked Russia to warn Iran's leadership that forthcoming talks with six world powers over its nuclear program would be Tehran's "last chance."
The United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany accepted an offer last week from Tehran for new talks on Iran's nuclear energy program, which the West fears is a front to create a nuclear weapon.
Iran, which denies seeking nuclear weapons, offered to bring unspecified "new initiatives" to the table.
"The Americans are insisting that it (the meeting) is the last chance for Tehran," Kommersant said. "Such a position, the source told Kommersant, was stated by Hillary Clinton at talks with Sergei Lavrov. She also asked her Russian colleague to pass on this message to Iranian authorities, with whom Washington does not have any links."
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said he could neither confirm nor deny the information published in Kommersant. He did not elaborate.