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Clinton says not yet time for Iran sanctions
Tue Oct 13, 2009 9:39am EDT
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By Jeff Mason and Michael Stott
MOSCOW (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday the time had not yet come for more sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program and praised what she said was Russia's help in tackling the issue.
Clinton, on her first visit to Russia since taking her post, quoted Russian President Dmitry Medvedev as saying sanctions against Iran might be inevitable, adding:
"But we are not at that point yet. That is not a conclusion we have reached. And we want to be very clear that it is our preference that Iran works with the international community...to fulfill its obligation on inspections."
Clinton generally played down differences with Moscow at a news conference held jointly with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
Instead she spoke of cooperation with Moscow on a range of international issues including nuclear disarmament and missile defense as part of a so-called "reset" of relations proclaimed by U.S. President Barack Obama.
"I feel very good about the so-called reset," she said.
State Department officials had said before the talks that Clinton would discuss with Moscow "specific forms of pressure" on Iran if it failed to keep promises not to pursue nuclear weapons but Clinton denied she had made any requests.
"We did not ask for anything today. We reviewed the situation and where it stood, which I think was the appropriate timing for what this process entails," Clinton said.
Lavrov restated Russia's position that talk of sanctions against Iran at this stage was counter-productive because international efforts should be focused on diplomacy.
Iran agreed at a meeting with world powers in Geneva on October 1 to allow U.N. experts access to a newly disclosed uranium enrichment plant near the city of Qom.
Officials called the talks constructive, but Clinton warned on Sunday the world would not wait forever for Iran to prove it was not building nuclear bombs.
U.S. President Barack Obama's decision to scrap plans for an anti-missile system located in eastern Europe has helped improve ties with Moscow after stormy relations under his predecessor George W. Bush.
But diplomats say that in return the United States now wants better Russian cooperation on an array of foreign policy issues such as the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, missile defense and a nuclear arms reduction treaty.
Lavrov said "considerable progress" had been made by U.S. and Russian negotiators toward a new bilateral treaty cutting their stocks of strategic nuclear weapons.
Both sides are working to a deadline of December for concluding a new treaty to replace the landmark Cold War-era START pact. Continued...
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