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Russia, Iran fail to break nuclear impasse

Written by: Staff

MOSCOW, Mar 1: Iran and Russia failed to agree on a compromise to break the deadlock over Tehran's nuclear programme today, as the Islamic Republic's president sought support in Muslim Malaysia.

Iranian officials, headed by top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, held a third round of talks on Moscow's proposal to carry out uranium enrichment for Iran on Russian soil.

''We need to refine ... a few elements of this question and study it. This requires time,'' Larijani told reporters through a translator after the talks ended late in the evening.

But he stuck to Tehran's line that even if a deal is struck with the Russians Iran will not bow to the key demand from its critics -- to drop all efforts to enrich uranium at home.

''I want to say that the process of enrichment is a sovereign right of any state,'' he said.

Sergei Kislyak, a Russian deputy foreign minister, was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying that ''not a few questions remain unresolved''.

Time is running out for a breakthrough before March 6, when the United Nation's nuclear watchdog is to issue a report on Iran's nuclear activities, which Tehran says are peaceful but others say are in pursuit of an atomic weapon.

The United States and the European Union trio of Britain, France and Germany -- the countries pressing Iran hardest on the issue -- say that any deal with Russia would be worth little unless it stopped Iran's own enrichment programme.

The Iranian delegation is to leave Moscow tomorrow, Russian news agencies said. But Larijani implied there would be more talks before their departure.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Malaysia for a trip that appeared to be part of a campaign to win support for his nuclear stance as the crunch March 6 meeting draws nearer.


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