World News

Russia's Medvedev criticizes Iran sanctions: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Russia and the United States should “act collectively” to coax Iran back to international talks on its nuclear program, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published on Thursday.

The Journal quoted Medvedev as complaining about additional sanctions against Iran imposed by the United States and European Union just after Russia backed a carefully negotiated package of U.N. sanctions last week.

“A couple of years ago, that would have been impossible,” Medvedev said, referring to Russia’s support of the U.N. sanctions designed to pressure Tehran to return to talks on its uranium enrichment program.

The EU adopted tighter sanctions against Iran on Thursday, including measures to block oil and gas investment and curtail its refining and natural gas capability.

The measures go substantially beyond those approved by the United Nations on June 10.

The U.S. Treasury on Wednesday also imposed new sanctions on Iran, blacklisting a state-controlled bank, companies that are fronts for the state shipping line and more members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Tehran rejects Western allegations that it wants atomic weapons and says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

In the interview, Medvedev said the United States had nothing to lose by imposing additional sanctions, as it has no ties with Iran, unlike Russia and China.

“We didn’t agree to this when we discussed the joint resolution at the U.N.,” Medvedev said. “We should act collectively. If we do, we will have the desired result.”

Medvedev was interviewed in St. Petersburg before a state visit to the United States next week.

President Barack Obama’s administration has made a deliberate effort to improve relations with Russia since Obama took office last year and has engaged Moscow on a range of issues important to U.S. interests.

The newspaper said the Russian leader also voiced optimism he could continue to widen cooperation between Russia and the United States and maintain a “dialogue” he has started with Obama.

In the wide-ranging Journal interview, Medvedev also was quoted as saying he was worried the situation in Kyrgyzstan, could deteriorate further, warning that a Taliban-style extremist government could arise in that country.

Renewed turmoil in Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic, has fueled concern in Russia, the United States and neighboring China.

Washington uses an air base at Manas in the north of the country, about 190 miles from Osh -- Kyrgyzstan’s second city and the scene of recent deadly ethnic clashes, to supply its forces in Afghanistan.

Russia has objected to the U.S. base, but Medvedev told the Journal that “the future of this base is in the hands of the Kyrgyzstan government.”