Clinton fails to win Russia pledge on Iran sanctions

Tue Oct 13, 2009 9:38pm GMT

By Jeff Mason and Michael Stott

MOSCOW (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed to win specific pledges from Moscow on tougher sanctions against Iran during a visit to Russia on Tuesday but hailed progress in other areas such as arms control.

A senior U.S. official had said before the talks that Clinton wanted to know "what specific forms of pressure Russia would be prepared to join us and our other allies in" if Iran did not keep promises to the international community not to pursue nuclear weapons.

But Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov restated at a news conference with Clinton Russia's position that any talk of sanctions against Iran at this stage was counter-productive.

"All forces should be aimed at supporting talks," he said.

A U.S. official later told reporters of the Russian side: "They said they weren't ready in this context to talk specifically about what steps they would be willing to take."

The Russian side preferred to discuss any possible moves against Iran in the context of the United Nations, the official added, speaking on condition he was not identified.

Clinton praised "very comprehensive and productive" discussions with Lavrov, saying they were further evidence of the "reset" in formerly rocky U.S.-Russia relations.

"I feel very good about the so-called reset," she said.   Continued...

<p>Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev talks to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during their meeting at the presidential residence in Barvikha outside Moscow, October 13, 2009. REUTERS/Natalia Kolesnikova/Pool</p>
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