Moscow: Russia's foreign minister said on Friday that Iran shouldn't face threats over its nuclear program and that a quick settlement of the standoff over it isn't realistic.
Sergey Lavrov said the latest round of talks in Moscow this week between six world powers and Iran has been "quite useful”, even though it failed to achieve a breakthrough. He said talks must continue without "any artificial deadlines or ultimatums”.
Iran insists its uranium enrichment program serves only civilian purposes, but the US, Israel and others suspect it's a cover for building nuclear weapons. Israel has accused Iran of stretching out the talks to move closer to the ability to make an atomic bomb, and it has threatened to attack the Islamic Republic as a last resort.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin is expected to face a strong Israeli demand to take a tougher line on Iran when he visits the Jewish state next week. Lavrov's statement signalled, however, that Moscow will likely respond to Israeli calls for stronger action with its usual advice to be patient and continue talks.
"In order to settle the issue, it's necessary to refrain from constant threats of using force, abandon scenarios aimed against Iran, and stop dismissing the talks as failure," Lavrov said on Russia's Vesti 24 television.
He said the international talks mustn't be dragged out, but that it would be wrong to "put forward any artificial deadlines and ultimatums and say that if there is no final agreement by the end of July or August and there simply can't be any in such a (short) period then we will end talks and launch some kind of bellicose actions."
First Published: Saturday, June 23, 2012, 09:56