Thursday, October 18, 2007

Putin Is Said to Offer Idea on Standoff Over Iran

The negotiator, Ali Larijani, told reporters that Mr. Putin, who was granted an audience with Ayatollah Khamenei on Tuesday evening, “offered a special proposal.” Neither the Iranians nor the Russians would disclose any details, but Mr. Larijani said the Iranian side was studying it.

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“One of the issues he brought up was his view on the nuclear issue,” Mr. Larijani said, according to the ISNA news agency. “We are reviewing it now.”

State-run television and news agencies quoted Ayatollah Khamenei as telling Mr. Putin, “We will think about what you said and about your proposal,” even as he added that Iran was “determined to provide our country’s need for nuclear energy.”

Mr. Putin’s visit highlighted the fact that Russia seems to be increasingly distancing itself from the United States and the Europeans on a strategy to curb Iran’s nuclear program. While those nations have sought to impose new Security Council sanctions on Iran, the governments of Russia and China have resisted, arguing that more time is needed.

Earlier, Moscow proposed to enrich uranium in Russia for use in Iranian reactors, assuring that Iran would not produce the highly enriched uranium needed for nuclear weapons. Tehran rejected the idea as an impingement on its sovereignty.