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. Iran group officials to meet next week on UN resolution: Lavrov
MOSCOW, Dec 1 (AFP) Dec 01, 2006
Officials of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany are to meet early next week to discuss a United Nations resolution on Iran's suspect nuclear programme, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.

Speaking after talks with his US, British and German counterparts in Jordan, Lavrov told the Interfax news agency the heads of the political directors of the foreign ministries of the six countries would be meeting "at the beginning of next week."

Lavrov repeated that Moscow was "not opposed to sanctions aimed at preventing nuclear materials and sensitive technology reaching Iran."

Russia mainly objects to targetted sanctions aimed at individuals, such as travel bans and the freezing of assets abroad.

The United States said Thursday that it might try to force through a UN resolution imposing sanctions despite objections from Russia and China.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters at a forum in the Jordanian Dead Sea resort of Shuneh that she still hoped to obtain agreement in favor of a sanctions package.

The so-called P5-plus-one group -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- has been trying for weeks to agree on what sanctions to impose on Iran for its refusal to comply with an earlier UN resolution requiring it to freeze a uranium enrichment program.

While all six states have agreed in principle to impose some sanctions until Iran agrees to suspend the enrichment and enter into negotiations on its nuclear program, Russia and China have balked at the terms of a draft resolution drawn up by Britain, France and Germany.

The United States and its European allies are seeking sanctions under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which legally obliges all UN members to comply with the punitive measures.

A draft resolution circulated by Britain, France and Germany would have barred trade with Iran in goods related to its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and slapped financial and travel restrictions on persons and agencies involved in the sectors.

But Russia and to a lesser extent China, which have extensive economic and energy ties with Iran, have tried to water down the resolution, while Washington, which fears that Tehran is trying to develop a nuclear weapons prgramme, hoped to beef it up.

Rice said she had a positive discussion on the issue with Lavrov on the sidelines of a Pacific Rim summit last month, but there was no guarantee that would translate into action at the UN.

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