TEHRAN, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman praised Russia for its "positive stance" on Tehran's nuclear program Sunday.
Commenting on Saturday's talks between U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and top Russian government officials, Hamid Reza Asefi said Russia had reiterated its commitment to having the Iranian nuclear issue settled within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and confirmed that Iran, as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, had a legitimate right to pursue a peaceful nuclear program of its own.
Iran's nuclear program was the focus of Dr Rice's Moscow talks with her counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
Lavrov said the current situation allowed the IAEA to continue proactive work on the Iranian nuclear dossier. But Rice expressed doubt that Iran needed a nuclear program and said the issue would be referred to the UN Security Council unless it failed to be resolved through direct negotiations with Tehran.
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Iran has been a central Russian ally in the Middle East, despite considerable tensions between the two. But by renewing dialogue with the West, the new Iranian leadership has chosen another direction. The shifting terrain in the region creates new strategic, political and economic challenges for Russia.