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FRIDAY, 18 APR 2014
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Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to visit Iran next week
Reuters
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov listens to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) during a NATO-Russia foreign ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels December 4, 2013.  REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov listens to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) during a NATO-Russia foreign ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels December 4, 2013. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
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MOSCOW: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Iran next week to discuss the interim deal reached by world powers and Tehran over its nuclear program and other issues, Russian news agencies reported on Friday.

After a decade-long standoff, Iran and six powers including Russia reached a deal on Nov. 24 under which Tehran agreed to curb elements of its nuclear activities in exchange for limited relief from economic sanctions.

During the visit on Tuesday and Wednesday, Lavrov plans to discuss the situation surrounding Iran's nuclear programme "in the context of the agreements recently reached in Geneva", Interfax quoted a Russian Foreign Ministry official as saying.

Russia, which built Iran's first nuclear power plant and has much warmer ties with Tehran than the United States does, has expressed less suspicion than Western powers that Iran may be seeking to develop nuclear weapons capability.

Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.

Moscow supported four rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions aimed at reining in Tehran's nuclear programme but has criticised the United States and Europe for imposing additional sanctions, saying they are counterproductive.

The deal with Iran, which Russia says is in line with its calls for a step-by-step resolution, came months after the election of President Hassan Rouhani, who has adopted a more constructive tone than hardline predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Russian President Vladimir Putin telephoned Rouhani on Nov. 18 to discuss the efforts to reach agreement on the nuclear issue and plans initiated by Russia and the United States for an international conference on the conflict in Syria.

Russia and Western nations have argued over whether Iran should be invited to the conference, scheduled for Jan. 22, which is to include the first direct talks between the Syrian government and its foes since the conflict began in March 2011.

Russia says Iran, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's chief regional backer, should be invited, while the United States and others have resisted this.

Russia has been Assad's most powerful supporter during the conflict, fulfilling arms contracts and blocking Western efforts to condemn him or push him from office.

 
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