Russia's Lavrov leaves Tehran after talks

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Tehran, Oct 31: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov left Tehran today, the official Iranian news agency IRNA said, after fresh talks with Iranian leaders on Iran's nuclear plans that have aroused Western concern.

IRNA provided no details on Lavrov's discussions on Oct 30 with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.

Lavrov's visit took place ahead of a meeting this week of major powers -- the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany -- to discuss possible new UN sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear plans.

US officials said the big powers would meet in London to discuss new action over Iran's refusal to halt activities which Tehran says are aimed at atomic power but which the West fears are aimed at making bombs.

Ahmadinejad said in a speech yesterday that Iran would not retreat in the dispute and dismissed US offers of broader negotiations if Iran suspends its most sensitive atomic activities.

Russia, one of the five permanent Council members, has rejected any talk of military strikes against Iran and says dialogue is the only way to ease tensions.

The meeting of Germany and the five permanent Council members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- will be on tomorrow or Friday, US officials said.

Lavrov yesterday suggested a united approach on the issue was still some way off. ''Economic unilateral sanctions against Iran will not help the continued collective effort,'' he told Russian news agencies in an apparent reference to new US punitive measures announced last week.


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