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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Envoy Says Only Defensive Weapons Will Be Sold to Iran

WASHINGTON - President Vladimir Putin is offering assurances to a concerned Bush administration that only defensive weapons will be sold to Iran.

Putin's envoy, Sergei Ivanov, also told Secretary of State Colin Powell Wednesday that Russia would be careful not to spread dangerous technology around the world.

But even with the assurances, Powell advised Ivanov that the administration was concerned about Russia's potential sale of both conventional and more sensitive items to Iran, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

Putin cut a new arms deal in Moscow this week with visiting Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. Powell, testifying before the Senate Budget Committee, was critical of what appears to be a break in a five-year policy of not arming Iran.

"If Russia wants a better relationship with the United States and the West, and we think it's in their interests to want such a relationship, we have to be concerned when we see suggestions that they may be investing in weapons sales ... with regimes such as Iran," he said.

Ivanov, emerging from a meeting with Powell later in the day, said only defensive weapons would be sold to Iran.

"All defensive," Putin's national security adviser, said. "Personnel carriers, tanks, anti-air missiles, which are very legitimate."

Powell said the Bush administration would pursue a realistic policy toward Moscow with the intent of nudging the Russians into a better relationship.

Ten years after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Powell said, Russia "no longer presents a threatening face to us." But, he said, "Our goal should not be to see if we can make Russia our best friend."

President George W. Bush told reporters Tuesday that "Russia is not an enemy," but "they may be a threat, if they decide to be."

"It's going to be very important for my administration to make that very clear to Mr. Putin," Bush said.

Ivanov said the first likely meeting between Presidents Bush and Ivanov would be at a summit of major industrialized countries in Genoa, Italy, in July.