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Russia Expresses Alarm Over Possible US Air Strikes on Iran

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow remains worried about the possibility of U.S. military action against Iran over its continued refusal to give up its controversial nuclear program. Moscow has long favored a negotiated settlement to the standoff as VOA's Lisa McAdams in Moscow reports.

In an exchange broadcast on Russian television Monday, Sergei Lavrov tells President Putin he is concerned about the increasing frequency of reports suggesting that the United States could still launch air strikes again Iran for failing to halt uranium enrichment.

Mr. Lavrov told the president the reports forecasting possible U.S. air strikes on Iran grow by the day and are, as he put it, "alarming."

President Putin added that no additional United Nations Security Council sanctions against Iran had yet been approved.

The possibility of such sanctions is expected to feature heavily during talks Monday, in London between representatives of six key powers, including Russia, looking for ways to resolve the standoff. Among the new measures under review are a mandatory travel ban on Iranian officials involved in the nuclear program, which the West fears could be used to make an atomic weapon.

Russia remains the lone opponent to tougher sanctions, favoring a policy of engagement with Iran - a key business partner - rather than a policy of punishment.

Lavrov added that U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was fueling the forecasts by telling reporters last week in Australia that, quote, "all options are on the table." Cheney's comments appeared to contradict those of White House and other senior officials who say that for now, diplomacy remains the favored course of U.S. action on Iran.