Iran talks cancelled as Russia begs off

UN Security Council talks on more sanctions against Iran were cancelled when Russia withdrew from a meeting planned this week in New York, Russian officials said Wednesday, reported dpa.

An official in the Russian delegation to the UN told news agency Ria-Novosti that Foreign Minster Sergei Lavrov could not take attend due to "the intensity of his schedule."

The Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, said it saw no need for an emergency session on Iran.

"We don't see the need to drop everything in an extremely busy week of the UN General Assembly and urgently meet for talks on the Iranian nuclear program," spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said in a statement posted on the ministry's website Wednesday.

Nesterenko said there were more urgent problems on the UN's agenda citing Afghanistan and Pakistan and accused the West of avoiding these discussions.

Political analysts believed Moscow's pullout from the talks on Iran's nuclear program appeared partly in anger over Western condemnation of its sanctions in the war with Georgia last month and partly as a reprisal for not getting its agenda items on the table in other talks.

Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council - along with the United States, France, Britain, China and Germany - which has previously voted sanctions against Tehran to punish the state's alleged ambition to develop atomic weapons.

But Moscow and Washington have butted heads in recent years. The US administration wants more sanctions, believing Iran's civil nuclear power program is a cover for building weapons. Russia says Iran is far from developing atomic arms.

Lavrov was meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday as the temperature of relations between their two countries plunged with Rice urging world leaders last week to "stand up" to Russian aggression.

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