Russia lays out 'step-by-step' approach on Iran

Wed Jul 13, 2011 9:38pm GMT

* Proposal would reward Iran by gradually easing sanctions

* U.S., Russian experts likely to consult in coming weeks

* U.S., Russia reach pacts on adoption, visas, plutonium

By Arshad Mohammed

WASHINGTON, July 13 (Reuters) - Russia on Wednesday laid out a "step-by-step" approach under which Iran could address questions about its nuclear program and be rewarded with a gradual easing of sanctions.

The proposal, described by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after talks with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, seeks to revive negotiations to put to rest Western suspicions that Iran may be seeking nuclear arms.

Talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany, in Geneva in December and in Istanbul in January, failed to make headway on reining in Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran says is peaceful.

Lavrov said Russia had proposed a "phased" process in which Iran would take steps to address the concerns of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

"The response to each specific step of Iran would be followed by some reciprocal step, like freezing some sanctions and shortening the volume of sanctions," Lavrov said at a news conference with Clinton.   Continued...

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