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Russia ready to mediate US-Iran talks

Press TV - Russia says it is ready to help initiate talks between the US and Iran as President Barack Obama has pledged direct diplomacy with Tehran.

"If somebody asks us to help establish direct dialogue (between Washington and Tehran), we are ready to help such dialogue get started," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov told AFP on Wednesday.

In an apparent shift from the Bush administration's policy on Iran, Obama has vowed to hold direct talks with Iran.

The US president said in an interview earlier that "If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us."

Iranian officials say they are open to talks but have demanded that the new US administration should adopt 'real change' and 'practical policies'.

The Russian official added that his country was 'absolutely for such talks', expressing hope that Iran-US negotiations could help resolve Tehran's nuclear issue.

The US and Iran do not have diplomatic relations. Washington severed ties with Tehran after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

The US and its allies accuse Iran of pursuing a military nuclear program. Iran insists its nuclear activities are only aimed at peaceful applications of the nuclear technology, rejecting the allegations as 'unfounded'.

The Bush administration led efforts to isolate Tehran through both unilateral punitive measures and the UN Security Council resolutions.

The Security Council has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Iran over the nuclear issue.

Russia, one of the six major powers discussing Tehran's nuclear program, opposes further sanctions, saying negotiations are the best possible way of resolving the issue.

... Payvand News - 02/05/09 ... --

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