MOSCOW, February 11 (Itar-Tass) - Ways towards settling Iran's nuclear problem, and cooperation in the energy sector will be discussed here on Monday by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Russia and Iran, Sergei Lavrov and Ali Akbar Salehi. The Iranian Foreign Minister has arrived in the Russian capital to attend the 10th session of the Russia-Iran Permament Commission on Trade-and-Economic Cooperation. The session is to be held in Moscow from February 11 to 12.
One can expect a detailed discussion by the Ministers of ways towards settling the situation around Iran's nuclear programme in the light of a regular round of talks, which is due to be held in Kazakhstan on February 26, between Tehran and six international mediators (five Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and Germany).
The Russian Foreign Minister said earlier, "Our policy line on the question of Iran's nuclear programme is based on awareness of the non-alternative nature of a politico-diplomatic settlement (of the issue)".
"The dialogue in the format of the Six and Iran is developing with difficulty. However, in the past year, the sides managed to find some points of contact and bring the positions (of the sides) somewhat closer together," Lavrov emphasized.
Moscow proceeds from Iran's vested right to the development of a civil nuclear programme, "including the right to (uranium) enrichment, following the clarification of all the outstanding matters and with the placement of all Iranlian nuclear activities under reliable and comprehensive safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency".
"In the process, the international community must adequately respond with reciprocity to constructive moves on the part of Iran, including a stage-by-stage suspension and abrogation of sanctions -- both unilateral ones, and those applied through the UNSC," Lavrov pointed out.
The United States, however, regularly toughens the sanctions regime with regard to the Islamic Republic. In recent days, Washington took new restrictive measures with respect to Tehran so as to block the proceeds from the sale of oil by Iran to other countries.
In this connection, Moscow once again drew attention to the counterproductiveness of such moves. "Such a policy proved its inefficacy, and we repeatedly stated that it not only brings about tremendous economic difficulties which bear heavily, first of all, on the civilian population," RF Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich stressed. "Second, such moves complicate the process of a political settlement of the problem and the negotiating process".
"It is symptomatic that on the eve of any big and important meetings in the format of the Six and Iran, there (invariably) arises a temptation to apply a 'sanctions cudgel' once again," the diplomat said, adding that this is "an utterly dangerous policy".
The Foreign Ministers of Russia and Iran are expected to 'compare notes' on matters of current importance concerning the international and regional agendas, and discuss the situation in Syria. Moscow is convinced that Iran "can and must play a positive role in ensuring a fundamental political change in the conflict in Syria".
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told Itar-Tass in an interview that Moscow considers it "inadmissible to ignore the potential of Tehran". "One must lay emphasis on inviting, not isolating, the Iranians who remain an importan element in the regional security structure," the high-ranking diplomat pointed out. "We have a steady impression that the Iranians are ready to make a constructive contribution to the common efforts".
The two Ministers are also expected to discuss a number of matters relating to bilateral cooperation, including that in the energy sector and agriculture. Iran is Russia's big trading partner in the Near and Middle East, and a vast market for the sale of Russian-made machines, equipment, and metalware. Food and agricultural goods are Russia's staple commodities in import from Iran.
Ali Akbar Salehi will also prioritize the development of cooperation in these fields within the framework of the session of the Russia-Iran Commission, of which he is a Co-Chairman.
A Russian Foreign Ministry official said, "The sides will review the implementation of the provisions of the protocol of the previous session of the intergovernmental commisison, and the main areas of economic interaction for the future, including energy, transport, and the financial-and-banking sector".
As a result of the session, the sides are to sign a Joint Protocol.