Rice to visit Russia to build Iran pressure

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will lobby Russia to pressure Iran over its suspected nuclear arms programmes at talks in Moscow on Saturday, U.S. officials said.
The former Soviet specialist will squeeze a Russian leg into a previously scheduled trip to France and Britain that focuses on shoring up support for the U.S. hard line against the Islamic Republic.

The United States won a resolution last month at the 35-member U.N. nuclear watchdog for Iran to be reported to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions. But no deadline was set for the move and Rice is working the capitals of major powers to find ways of keeping the pressure on Iran.

Rice, who landed in Paris late on Thursday, wants Iran to return to negotiations on its programmes with the EU, led by Britain, France and Germany, said the officials who were travelling with Rice. She is not visiting Germany, which is still in the throes of choosing a new government after elections last month.

Iran denies U.S. charges it wants to build atomic bombs and says its programmes are aimed at the peaceful generation of electricity.

Washington has called on governments involved in nuclear projects in Iran to immediately freeze those projects. Moscow is building a $1 billion civilian nuclear reactor at Bushehr in Iran and has agreed to supply it with fuel.

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