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Russia confirms Lavrov, Clinton could meet March 6


MOSCOW, February 16 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian foreign minister and the new U.S. secretary of state could hold their first meeting on March 6, a Russian deputy foreign minister said on Monday confirming earlier reports.

"... Different options are being considered. This date is among them," Sergei Ryabkov said.

The European Union foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, was reported to have said last week that top U.S. diplomat Hillary Clinton planned to meet with Sergei Lavrov on March 6 in Geneva following a gathering of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.

The meeting is seen as a sign of a thaw in relations between Moscow and Washington strained over a host of issues, including U.S. plans to deploy missile shield elements in Central Europe, which Russia strongly opposes.

Media reports said the new U.S. administration is seeking a compromise on the missile shield dispute and Russia's cooperation in preventing Iran from building a nuclear bomb, one of the reasons cited for the missile shield.

Speaking about "signals sent by the U.S. administration," Ryabkov agreed that removing concerns about Iran's nuclear program would pave the way for "more profound talks on cooperation on missile defense."

The diplomat said Russia has shown no signs it will toughen its position on Iran at the current time. But he said international mediators in the long-running denuclearization talks should step up diplomacy with Tehran as "there is no alternative to political talks in addressing grounded international concerns about Iran's compliance with UN resolutions."

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