Source: Mehr News Agency, Tehran
Western nations had shown interest in a Russian proposal aimed to help defuse nuclear dispute between Iran and the West, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov announced on Wednesday.
According to the Russian proposal, known as "step-by-step" approach, Iran would take steps to increase cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and those steps would be rewarded with a gradual easing of sanctions.
The proposal was first revealed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the Russian Embassy in Washington on July 12, 2011.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi announced on November 16 last year that the Russian proposal "was a gesture of good faith."
In a proposal aired in February, Russia says that as a start, Iran could freeze the number of centrifuges for uranium enrichment at current levels and place other restrictions on its centrifuge use. In return, the West would refrain from imposing new sanctions on Tehran.
Ryabkov said the proposal was discussed at talks in Istanbul on April 14 between Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France - plus Germany). A new round of talks is to be held on May 23 in Baghdad.
Ryabkov who represented Russia in the Istanbul talks said Western powers indicated they were "interested" in the proposal.
"We are keeping all our proposals on the negotiating table, but the work now is proceeding in a somewhat different format," said Ryabkov, Reuters reported.
"We are working in order for the (5+1 group) to have a consolidated position, and our ideas are given weighty consideration in this regard," he said by telephone.
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