WORLD / Middle East

Russian: Iran must take 'urgent' steps
Updated: 2006-04-19 21:59

The international community is demanding that Iran take "urgent and constructive steps" including halting uranium enrichment to ease concerns about its nuclear program, Russia's foreign minister said Wednesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks to the media after a meeting with his Albanian counterpart Besnik Mustafaj in Moscow April 12, 2006. Lavrov said on Wednesday the use of force could not solve the stand-off surrounding Iran's nuclear programme. [Reuters]

Sergey Lavrov acknowledged that the latest talks among world powers brought no decision on how to proceed after Iran's hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announced last week that his country "joined the club of nuclear countries" by successfully enriching uranium for the first time.

Diplomats from the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany met Tuesday in Moscow.

Iran must heed calls "to suspend work linked to uranium enrichment," Lavrov said. "All participants in the meeting agreed that urgent and constructive steps are demanded of Iran."

Enriched uranium can be used to produce both nuclear energy and nuclear weapons.

Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency later reported that top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani flew to Russia for talks with European officials. Russia's Foreign Ministry and Security Council could not immediately confirm the visit, and a press official at the Iranian Embassy, Shervin Musavi, said he was unaware of a visit.

Officials from the French, British and German embassies in Moscow either declined to comment or did not answer phone calls.
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