View Full Version : Olmert In "Urgent" Talks With Putin

10-19-2007, 07:38 AM
Olmert in 'urgent' talks with Putin


By James Blitz in London and Neil Buckley in Moscow
Updated: 4:11 a.m. ET Oct 19, 2007

Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, on Thursday night held talks in the Kremlin with Vladimir Putin, Russian president, seeking to persuade him to back new United Nations sanctions regarding Iran's nuclear programme.

Following Mr Putin's own visit to Tehran this week, Mr Olmert held what a senior Israeli official called "a last-minute, urgent meeting" in which Iran's nuclear programme was certain to be the central issue under discussion between the two men.

Ahead of the meeting, an Israeli government spokesman said Mr Olmert would be "very clear on the Israeli position that in no way can Iran achieve nuclear capability, that Iranian nuclear capability threatens the world, including Russia".
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According to one Israeli newspaper, Mr Olmert was carrying "an unequivocal message to the Russian president: in a situation in which Iran has nuclear weapons and Syria has sophisticated weapons from Russia, Israel will have to weigh its actions against these threats".

Mr Olmert's visit was being seen by some western diplomats as a sign of the way Mr Putin is exploring how Russia might become the chief mediator in the long-running stand-off between the west and Iran.

In Tehran, Mr Putin said Russia would not accept military action against Iran - something he repeated on Thursday - and invited President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad to Moscow for talks.

However, some western diplomats believe the Russian leadership privately understands the concerns of the western community that Iran must not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon. Russia, in their view, could be prepared to take a tough line with the Iranian regime in private.

Dmitry Peskov, deputy spokesman for Mr Putin, declined this week to confirm whether the president had made any new proposal to Iran on its nuclear programme and said he could not disclose the content of his meetings there.

"The issue is too complicated and too sensitive to be made public," he said. "But the main idea is obvious. It is to ensure that Iran is in full co-operation, and full transparency, with the International Atomic Energy Agency in all activities related to the nuclear ^dossier."

Mr Olmert's visit comes days before Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy head, meets Iran's chief nuclear negotiator in Rome for talks aimed at drawing Tehran back into negotiations over its controversial nuclear programme.

An EU official said Mr Solana, who has a mandate from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - Britain, China, France, Russia and the US - and Germany, would meet Ali Larijani on Tuesday.

Mr Solana last met Mr Larijani in June, but his previous efforts to draw Tehran into negotiations, with a package of inducements for it to suspend its uranium enrichment programme, have failed to yield a breakthrough.

"The idea is not that Solana has a mandate to be flexible on suspension but to convince Larijani to comply with security council resolutions," said a western diplomat. "The meetings are more about process than substance."