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U.S. sanctions won't solve Iran issue: FM Lavrov

Russia's Foreign Minister says that unilateral sanctions, like those imposed by the U.S., are not helping solve the impasse over Iran's nuclear programme. Sergey Lavrov made a surprising two hour visit to Tehran on Tuesday, his second in as many weeks.

Mr Lavrov met the country's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, after spending several minutes with Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.

“We come out solely for a peaceful settlement of issues raised by the international community,” Mr Lavrov said, “we'll be resolutely following the decisions worked out by the UN Security Council.”

“We reiterate that unilateral actions which are now being taken with respect to trade-economic sanctions against Iran are not helping further collective efforts,” Lavrov underlined.

Mr Lavrov said talks between all parties must continue.

“I believe that by such actions we'll be contributing to finding of a just solution… The dialogue will continue.”

In the past week, the U.S. has imposed new sanctions against Iran, and the IAEA has released a report showing no evidence of Iran building a nuclear bomb.

Both France and the U.S. have dismissed the nuclear watchdog's findings.

The U.S. has been insisting on tougher measures to be taken against Iran while Russia has been calling for a diplomatic solution to the problem.

Iran has always maintained that its nuclear work is only for civilian energy purposes.

“I think the main reason for Russian FM Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Iran is the change of the chief negotiator with the European Troika, Mr Larijani, who had actually resigned from the post, and a new person was appointed. I think that this is a crucial thing for continuing negotiations between Iran and the five powers, plus Germany.  The second reason, I think, as usual, is further co-operation on the Bushehr power plant. There were some problems with this project – financing from the Iranian side and the actual commissioning of the nuclear power plant. These are the two reasons for the visit,” Vladimir Sotnikov, an analyst from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations in Moscow, commented.

Meantime, five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany are to meet this week to discuss the possibility of a third round of sanctions against Iran for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment programme.