Russia Declines Support for Iran Nuke Talks

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (search) failed Saturday to persuade Russia to offer new support for a hard line on Iran's disputed nuclear program, despite making a hastily arranged trip to the Russian capital.

Rice wanted Russian cooperation as the United States and its European allies try either to draw Iran back to diplomatic talks or invoke the threat of punishment from the powerful U.N. Security Council. (search)

But after a meeting with Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov (search), it was clear Russia had not changed its position supporting Iran's right to disputed nuclear technology.

Lavrov told reporters that Russia thinks the Iranian nuclear question can be resolved "without referring this issue to other organizations."

That position could dash U.S. hopes for a Russian "yes" vote when the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency takes up Iran's case next month.

Rice said the Security Council "remains an option."

"We've said all along there remains time for negotiations if Iran is prepared to negotiate in good faith," Rice told reporters.