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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Israeli Official Voices Hope

Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, on a brief visit to Russia to discuss further sanctions against Iran, said Tuesday that he was leaving Moscow in an upbeat mood.

World powers agreed Monday to work on a new United Nations Security Council resolution to put pressure on Iran in addition to existing sanctions, but much depends on how far veto-wielding Russia is willing to go in imposing further penalties.

"Without going into details, I'd like to say I'm leaving feeling more optimistic than when I came," Lieberman told reporters. "I think Russia has a correct view of the situation."

Israel and the West suspect Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian power program, which Tehran denies.

Neither Israel nor the United States has ruled out military force against Iran, although Washington says its priority is to reach a diplomatic solution.

"The last thing Israel is interested in is an escalation or some military action against Iran," Lieberman said.

The UN imposed limited sanctions on Iran's nuclear program in December, and Tehran faces possible further steps for ignoring a Feb. 21 deadline to halt enrichment.