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Moscow hails U.S. intention for direct talks with Iran - Lavrov


MOSCOW, February 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russia attaches great importance to U.S. intentions for direct talks with Iran and believes they could unlock the standoff over Tehran's nuclear program, the Russian foreign minister said on Wednesday.

"We particularly attach great importance to the intention of the new administration in Washington to begin a direct dialogue with Iran," Sergei Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow.

U.S. President Barack Obama said at a White House press conference on Monday that his administration was in the process of evaluating the country's policy toward Iran and would look at the possibility of using "direct diplomacy" with the Iranian government.

Russia's top diplomat said the new approach could be a major factor in resolving the international dispute over Iran's nuclear program.

"Considering the fresh approach that is shaping in regard to Iran, we hope that the United States will be able to make a more effective contribution to the resolution of this issue than in recent years," Lavrov said.

Iran is currently under three sets of relatively mild sanctions over its controversial nuclear program, which it insists is purely civilian but the West, led by the United States and Israel, maintains is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

In late January, Obama called both the Iranian people and Persian civilization "great." However, he also said that, "Iran has acted in ways that's not conducive to peace and prosperity in the region."

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