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Report says Russia to examine Iran's nuclear ideas

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Russia was quoted as saying on Tuesday it was ready to examine Iranian proposals to end a deadlock over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks during a news conference in New Delhi April 29, 2008.REUTERS/B Mathur

Iranian media said Valentin Sobolev, acting secretary of Russia’s National Security Council, made the comments at talks with top Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.

On Monday Jalili said Iran had drawn up “serious” ideas to end the atomic row.

The United States and European states accuse the Islamic Republic of mastering technology to make nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian programme. Iran says its goal is peaceful.

Iran’s official IRNA news agency, citing Sobolev, said that “Russia was ready to examine Iran’s proposed package and to find a way out of this existing deadlock.”

“Russia supports the Islamic Republic of Iran’s right in using peaceful nuclear energy,” it quoted Sobolev as saying. He is expected to meet President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki before leaving Iran on Wednesday.

Iran has not revealed details about its proposals.

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“Iran’s proposed package is a new chance for constructive cooperation aimed at creating regional and international peace and stability,” Jalili said.

Ahmadinejad said during a brief visit to India on Tuesday that the package was “comprehensive”.

Iran’s failure to convince world powers about its intentions has led to three rounds of U.N. sanctions since 2006. Russia and China have been reluctant backers of imposing penalties.

The U.N. Security Council has demanded Iran halt uranium enrichment, the part of Tehran’s nuclear programme that most worries the West because it can be used to make fuel for power plants or, if desired, material for bombs. Iran has refused.

Russia, which this year finished shipping nuclear fuel to Iran’s first nuclear power station, has tried to use a mixture of persuasion and warnings to push Iran to be more open about its nuclear programme.

A senior diplomat in Europe said Iran had earlier proposed turning its Natanz enrichment complex into a multilateral operation to counter foreign fears of diversions to bomb making there, and that this might be among Iran’s proposals.

Iran’s Mehr News Agency said Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, whose country has previously sought to find a compromise in the atomic row, spoke to Jalili by telephone about the proposals and “welcomed Iran’s initiative”.

“On the occasion of a recent phone call we have learned of a possible initiative,” Swiss foreign ministry spokesman Lars Knuchel told Reuters. “However, we are not familiar with its content.”