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    Moscow warns U.S. Iran policy may spark "clash of civilizations"

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    Moscow urges the United States to avoid escalating tensions around Iran over its nuclear program as it could lead to a "clash of civilizations," the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

    MOSCOW, March 27 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow urges the United States to avoid escalating tensions around Iran over its nuclear program as it could lead to a "clash of civilizations," the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

    Washington has been pushing for tougher international sanctions against Iran, which it suspects of pursuing a nuclear weapons program. The UN Security Council passed a new resolution Saturday introducing further sanctions on Iran.

    "The international community should not risk escalating the situation around Iran and should wait for the U.S. to make a good-faith effort to normalize relations with Tehran," the Foreign Ministry said in a foreign policy review signed by the president.

    The Russian ministry said the Iran crisis could have devastating consequences for relations between "civilizations," and then the U.S. would have to prove it is not preparing for a "clash of civilizations" by building up "Fortress America," separated from the rest of the world by two oceans and strict border controls.

    The term "clash of civilizations" is part of a theory that people of different cultures and religions will be involved in a post-Cold War conflict. Samuel P. Huntington popularized and expanded the term in his book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order in 1996.

    The Russian ministry said the U.S. was capable of reaching a compromise with Iran, and cited a visit by former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to the U.S. in August.

    "The trip of former Iranian President Khatami to the U.S. in August showed that dialogue between civilizations could become a useful channel for the Americans to establish contacts with Tehran," said the ministry review ordered by President Vladimir Putin in June.

    Khatami was the most senior Iranian official to visit the U.S. outside the UN framework in more than two decades after the Islamic Revolution and the embassy hostage crisis in Iran.

    Unlike the U.S., Russia, which is building a nuclear power plant in southern Iran, has opposed any tough sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Russian authorities have also been seriously alarmed by U.S. plans to deploy a missile shield in Central Europe to prevent possible strikes from Iran or North Korea.

    In his outspoken address to the Munich security conference in February, President Putin said the U.S. missile defense plans could trigger a new arms race, and accused the U.S. of ignoring international law and imposing its own rules on other countries.

    "We are seeing an increasing disregard for the fundamental principles of international law," Putin said, adding that Russia would amend its military strategy in response.

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