Monday, October 24, 2005

US National Security Adviser Meets With Russian FM

Dow Jones Newswires:
U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley visited Moscow Monday, as Washington pushes diplomatic efforts to confront Iran over its suspect nuclear program. Iran's foreign minister held separate talks in the Russian capital. Hadley met with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other senior officials at the start of his two-day visit.

The U.S. 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." READ MORE

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 U.S.

"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.

Hadley responded: "I think the consultation you described over the last two months shows the vitality and the intensity of the consultations between the United States and the Russian Federation."

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was due to meet with Lavrov Monday afternoon. 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 - the U.K., France and Germany - collapsed in August after Iran resumed uranium reprocessing work.

Iran insists its nuclear program is for the peaceful purpose of generating power. Russia is building an 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 doesn't 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.