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. Russian envoy plays down Iran sanctions talk
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 6 (AFP) Aug 07, 2008
Russia's UN envoy on Wednesday played down talk of fresh UN sanctions against Iran after its ambiguous response to an offer of technology incentives by six major powers in exchange for a freeze of its uranium enrichment work.

State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said top diplomats from the six discussed the issue by conference call earlier Wednesday and "agreed that we have no choice but to pursue further measures against Iran as part of this strategy."

"It may well be that in the course of those discussions some members of the six raised the issue of the sanctions," Vitaly Churkin said. "But to the best of my knowledge there has been no firm agreement or understanding or concerted work in this regard."

He added that ministerial talks by six major powers on a new round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear defiance were likely to continue during the General Assembly session, scheduled from September 23 to October 1.

"Since I have not heard of anything in this building up to this point, it is not entirely reckless to assume that September would be the next opportunity," he told reporters.

"The main thing to remember is the negotiating track is open ... There are contacts between the parties ... We need to focus very much on the negotiating opportunities which this may produce," he added.

US media reports earlier said the United States and its allies were to press for a new set of UN Security Council sanctions. But Russia and China could resist the move, diplomats said.

The 15-member Security Council has already imposed three sets of sanctions against Iran for its refusal to suspend sensitive uranium enrichment work.

The six powers had offered Iran a package of technological incentives if it suspends uranium enrichment, which the West fears could be used to make nuclear weapons.

Tehran has steadfastly refused to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, which it says are only aimed at producing fuel for nuclear power for a growing population.

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