Russia still studying Iranian nuclear offer

11th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia on Tuesday said it was considering Iran's invitation to tour its nuclear facilities but still needed several questions answered before deciding whether to accept.

In Russia's first official comments on the invitation, which was forwarded January 4 to Russia, China, Egypt, Cuba and rotating EU president Hungary, a senior foreign ministry official called the offer a positive step.

"We received this initiative with interest," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Interfax.

"We believe that the Iranian side has thus demonstrated its readiness to move toward a certain dialogue on this important subject."

But Ryabkov added that Russia had "several counter-questions that we are now discussing with our Iranian partners."

The official did not specify what those unresolved points related to, saying only that he hoped they would "help remove the international community's concerns" about the Iranian nuclear programme.

"We have not yet reached our decision," Ryabkov added.

The Iranian move was immediately dismissed as "antics' by the United States, which along with Britain, France and Germany, was not invited.

The European Union responded by noting that it was up to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to carry out such visits.

Iran and Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany are to meet for another round of talks on Tehran's atomic programme in Istanbul on on January 21-22.

The previous round of talks, after a 14-month hiatus, was held in Geneva on December 6-7.

© 2011 AFP

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