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Russian Foreign Minister Meets Iranian President in Tehran


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran on Tuesday, as differences mount between Moscow and the West about Iran's nuclear program.

Prior to the talks, Russian media quoted a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying topics would include Tehran's nuclear ambitions and bilateral issues.

Also Tuesday, China rejected a call from Israel for further sanctions against Iran for refusing to stop sensitive nuclear activities. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni urged the additional sanctions during a three-day visit to Beijing, which concluded Tuesday.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said countries are seeking dialogue with Tehran to resolve the issue and sanctions should be avoided to prevent further complications.

China and Russia, both veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council, have been reluctant to support a third U.N. sanctions resolution against Iran.

Iranian state media reported Tuesday that Mr. Ahmadinejad today called recent U.S. sanctions against Iran "hollow" and said Tehran will not succumb to pressures by Washington.

The U.S. sanctions designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction and its elite Quds force as a supporter of terrorism in the Middle East.

The White House said today there is no reason to think President Bush is about to attack Iran militarily, adding that it is important to pursue diplomacy with Tehran. Spokeswoman Dana Perino also said French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with Mr. Bush next week in Washington and discuss the importance of pursuing diplomacy.

The United States and its allies accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon. Iran says its atomic program is for peaceful purposes.

On Monday, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, told the U.N. General Assembly that Iran's refusal to suspend uranium enrichment is "regrettable."

The deputy director of the IAEA, Olli Heinonen, is in Iran. He arrived Monday for meetings focusing on simple and advanced centrifuges used for enriching uranium. Iran uses the simple centrifuges, but is researching the more advanced ones.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.