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    Iran problem can only be solved by direct talks - FM Lavrov

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    Only direct talks can settle a long-running dispute around Iran's controversial nuclear program, Russia's foreign minister said Friday, adding that talks were currently fraught with problems.

    STRASBOURG, May 19 (RIA Novosti) - Only direct talks can settle a long-running dispute around Iran's controversial nuclear program, Russia's foreign minister said Friday, adding that talks were currently fraught with problems.

    "Iran was offered a package during difficult talks in New York and shown the advantages of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency," the UN's nuclear watchdog, Sergei Lavrov told reporters.

    "Iran should answer the IAEA's long-standing questions, and this is what we all expect," he said.

    He said agreements with Iran could take various forms, but should enable Iran to obtain nuclear fuel for its program without provoking international suspicion.

    "We do not want to isolate Iran, we want to involve it in international cooperation," he said. "Talks are the only solution."

    Since Iran refused to stop uranium enrichment, which the United States, France and the United Kingdom consider a cover for the production of nuclear weapons, the three countries have been pushing for a new draft UN Security Council resolution providing for tough sanctions against Iran, including the use of force.

    Lavrov said Wednesday it was premature to think about imposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic over its reluctance to abandon its nuclear program.

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