US to urge Russia not to sell missiles to Iran: Clinton

BRUSSELS, March 5, 2009 (AFP) - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday that she would urge Russia to stop missile sales talks with Iran, during meetings in Geneva with her Russian counterpart.

She said she would "raise with Russia their continuing discussions with Iran about selling longer-range missiles, which we think are a threat to Russia as well as to Europe and neighbours in the region."

Clinton meets Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in a test of whether President Barack Obama's new diplomacy can improve US-Russian ties, which were badly strained during the presidency of George W. Bush.

Russia has denied that it was preparing to deliver sophisticated S-300 surface-to-air missiles to the Islamic republic, following reports it was about to supply the weapons to the US arch-foe.

There have been contradictory reports about whether Russia was to supply S-300s which Iran could use to defend against an airstrike on its nuclear facilities.

Russia's state-owned arms export firm, Rosoboronexport, said in a statement that it was delivering "defensive" anti-aircraft systems to Iran while not commenting on reports it was sending S-300s.

The United States and its ally Israel have never ruled out an aerial attack against Iran to thwart its nuclear ambitions.

Obama has ordered a review of planned extensions of the US anti-missile shield into Europe, a project which has angered Russia, but he wants Moscow to help deal with the missile threat that Iran poses.

Washington maintains that if Russia were to help deal with that threat, it would minimise the need for such a system, which would have interceptors and a radar based in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Source: AFP

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