Sergey Lavrov 298.88 ap.
(photo credit: ap [file])
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday that six-nation talks on Iran's disputed nuclear program could take place early next week, Russian news agencies reported.
Lavrov said the meeting, proposed by France, would focus on a draft UN Security Council resolution that would impose penalties on Iran for refusing to stop uranium enrichment. The talks would take place at the level of political directors, who are deputy foreign ministers, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported from Jordan, where Lavrov was on an official visit.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier all agreed Friday to the meeting, Lavrov said, according to the Interfax news agency. China also would be expected to take part.
Lavrov reaffirmed Russia's readiness to back a UN ban on exports of nuclear materials and sensitive technologies to Iran, but said Moscow remained opposed "to such sanctions and steps that could affect the International Atomic Energy Agency's activities in Iran," the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.
The Europeans and Americans pushed for tough sanctions to punish Iran for its refusal to respect an Aug. 31 UN Security Council deadline for halting uranium enrichment, but Russia said it will agree only to limited measures targeting the nuclear program.
Russia and China, which have major commercial ties with Iran, have been publicly pushing for dialogue instead of UN punishment, despite the collapse of a European Union attempt to entice Iran into negotiations.
The Europeans circulated a draft UN Security Council resolution in October that would order all countries to ban the supply of materials and technology that could contribute to Iran's nuclear and missile programs. It would also impose a travel ban and asset freeze on companies, individuals and organizations involved in those programs.
The draft would exempt a nuclear power plant being built by the Russians at Bushehr, Iran, but not the nuclear fuel needed for the reactor.
Russia proposed major changes that would limit sanctions solely to measures that would keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Russia would eliminate any travel ban, asset freeze, or mention of Bushehr.