FM Lavrov issues Iran appeal, says Russia against use of force
BEIJING, May 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's foreign minister Tuesday called on Iran to answer questions about its controversial nuclear program, but said his country and China opposed the use of force to resolve the crisis.
"We are worried that Iran has not so far answered questions posed by the International Atomic Energy Agency [the UN's nuclear watchdog] on its nuclear activities," Lavrov said. "We hope Iran will give answers in the near future."
Lavrov, currently on an official visit to China, was speaking after talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing.
"Neither Russia, nor China will support a resolution of the UN Security Council that could be used as a pretext for the use of force," Lavrov said.
Russia has opposed a draft UN Security Council resolution submitted by the United States, France and the United Kingdom to impose sanctions on Iran, which they suspect of pursuing a covert nuclear-weapons program. Russia and China have always supported a diplomatic solution to the issue.
Lavrov reiterated that Russia and China believed that diplomacy alone could solve the crisis.
"We are convinced that a solution can only be found through dialogue and not diktat, by involving Iran in a discussion of the nuclear problem, and not by driving it into a corner," the minister said.
He added that the Iranian nuclear problem would not be included on the agenda of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit on June 15.
"I do not link the Iranian president's intention to attend the SCO summit with efforts being made to solve the Iranian nuclear issue," Lavrov said.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's plans to attend the summit were announced May 15. Iranian government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham said Iran, which has an observer status in the regional security organization, intended to be a proactive participant in the summit and was seeking broader cooperation with all the six members of the organization - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia and China - in the economy, politics and culture, as well as in international affairs.
Lavrov also said the meeting of foreign ministers of the six negotiating nations on Iran's nuclear program had been productive.
"The meeting was the most productive and useful of all [the previous meetings]," he said. "The sides agreed that a positive package for Iran had to be drafted following the meeting."
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