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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow to Host Talks on Iran Crisis

As Iran kept up its nuclear rhetoric, Russia said Monday that it would insist on a diplomatic solution of the crisis when diplomats from six countries involved in searching for a resolution met in Moscow this week.

Political directors of the foreign ministries of Russia, the United States, China, Germany, France and Britain will meet over dinner Tuesday to discuss Iran, a Western diplomat said on customary condition of anonymity.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak will represent Russia; Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, the United States; and Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, China.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met Monday with Cui to discuss the Iranian nuclear problem.

Discussions of the Iranian crisis are to continue during a Wednesday meeting of envoys from the Group of Eight, the Western diplomat said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Krivtsov said Russia would demand a diplomatic solution. "This opinion is invariable, and it will be reaffirmed at the upcoming talks," Krivtsov said.

The United States and Britain say that if Iran does not comply with the UN Security Council's demand to stop uranium enrichment -- which can produce fuel for a nuclear reactor or material for a bomb -- by April 28, they will seek a resolution that would make the demand compulsory.

Russia and China, which have strong economic ties with Iran, have opposed the United States' push for sanctions against Tehran. Russia is building a nuclear power plant in Iran's southern port of Bushehr and has sold weapons to Tehran.

Iran's ambassador to Russia, meanwhile, suggested that his country would prepare for war if necessary.

"One of the ways to prevent a war is to be prepared for it. But Iran will do everything possible to avoid any war in the region," Gholamreza Ansari said, Interfax and Itar-Tass reported.

"We hope the Iranian question will be resolved through negotiations," he said.

The news agencies gave no further details of his comments or the context in which they were made.

Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky urged the Kremlin on Monday not to aggravate the situation by delivering weapons to Tehran.

"Russia is in a position where it can influence further developments in the situation surrounding Iran, including from the military point of view," Yavlinsky said, Interfax reported.

Russia and Iran struck a deal in December for Moscow to supply sophisticated Tor-M1 air defense missiles to Tehran, drawing strong criticism from the United States and Israel. The missiles are to be delivered later this year, according to media reports.

Even though Russia continues to call for more diplomacy, analysts say that Tehran's stubborn refusal to halt uranium enrichment efforts would make it hard for both Moscow and Beijing to stave off a U.S. push for sanctions.

"Russia will search for ways of settlement without sanctions and the use of force ... but Iran must show wisdom and flexibility," said Alexei Arbatov, the head of Moscow-based Center for International Security. "If Iran doesn't help, Russia won't be able to do anything."

Kommersant reported Monday that intense bargaining over political support for the United States' moves against Iran would dominate global politics in the coming months.

"Moscow must take efforts to avoid being left in an unenviable position of Tehran's sole defender," the newspaper said.