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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived on an urgent visit in Tehran on Wednesday to save from failure two Russian key initiatives, namely those for the settlement of the Iranian nuclear problem and the salvation of Kofi Annan’s peace plan for the settlement in Syria. Russia offers to hold a probable conference on Syria in Moscow.
The Russian Foreign Ministry is convinced that both problems can be settled without the use of force, the Kommersant daily noted. But at the same time Russia acknowledges that if the consultations on the Iranian nuclear problem due in Moscow on June 18-19 fail, this will be a weighty argument for the supporters of a forcible solution to the Iranian nuclear problem. If Russia fails to convene a conference on Syria soon, foreign commandoes can replace UN observers in that country already in July.
The Kommersant daily reported that Sergei Lavrov was not going to visit Tehran before last Saturday. The plans of the minister changed unexpectedly at the end of the week. Lavrov found it necessary to discuss personally with the Iranian leadership two Russian latest initiatives, namely the settlement of the Iranian nuclear problem and the end to the civil war in Syria, a source of the newspaper in the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Sergei Lavrov immediately offered to Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi “not to lose any time” and pass to the essence of the problems. The minister was eager to learn what Iran will propose at a Sextet meeting on June 18. The previous similar consultations in Baghdad ended almost in a full failure. A Kommersant source in the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Russian diplomats succeeded just at the last moment to persuade their colleagues of the need to hold another round of talks, this time in Moscow.
If the Moscow meeting does not yield any results, the escalation of the conflict cannot be avoided, the newspaper believes. New sanctions will be imposed on Tehran first of all. Meanwhile, the experts warned that even if tougher sanctions are imposed, Tehran will be able to live on gold and currency reserves at least for two years. It was even unclear before Wednesday whether the Iranian delegation will arrive in Moscow.
The second issue on the agenda of the Wednesday negotiations became a crisis in Syria. Russia insists on an urgent conference in support for Kofi Annan’s peace plan and hopes for Iran’s participation in it. The Russian Foreign Ministry hopes to hold it before the end of June.
The Iranian foreign minister confirmed that Iran’s position on Syria is “very close” to that of Russia. Meanwhile, the US opposes strongly Iran’s participation in the conference on Syria. The US believes that Iran “makes part of the problem, rather than its solution.”
Russia offered to convene an international conference on Syria in Moscow, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported. About 15 countries can participate in it, including the permanent members of the UN Security Council, neighbouring countries with Syria, namely Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Washington did not respond to this Russian initiative, the newspaper noted. US State Secretary Hillary Clinton accused Russia of the delivery of helicopter gunships to Damascus.
In reply to journalist’s questions Lavrov dwelt on the supplies of Russian weapons to Syria. “Russia does not supply any weapons to the Syrian government. These weapons can be used against peaceful demonstrators only in the wildest fantasies. We complete the fulfilment of the contracts, which were signed long ago and are paid for the supplies of the air defence systems. These air defence systems can be used, only if Syria is subject to a foreign attack. We do not deliver anything more,” Lavrov underlined.