Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says it is premature to discuss
sanctions against Iran for its controversial nuclear program.
Mr. Putin told reporters in Beijing Wednesday that there is no need to frighten the Iranians with such talk. He stressed there is instead a need to compromise and reach agreements. The Russian prime minister said if talks do not take place or if they "end in a fiasco, we can speak of further steps."
His comments came a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said imposing sanctions against Tehran at this stage would be "counterproductive."
After discussing the issue with Lavrov in Moscow, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also said it is not yet time for additional sanctions. She added that the U.S. is still considering such measures if diplomacy proves unsuccessful.
Clinton also emphasized both Moscow and Washington agree that Iran is entitled to peaceful nuclear energy, but not nuclear weapons.
Last month, the Russian president said sanctions in some cases are inevitable. U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed the statement. Some analysts called it a shift in approach by Moscow, which has long opposed tough sanctions on Iran.
The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed legislation that will make it easier for U.S. states, local governments and pension funds to end investments in companies helping Iran's energy sector. The bill now heads to the U.S. Senate for approval.
Iranian diplomats have agreed to meet with officials from the U.S., France, Russia and the United Nations to work out a plan for enriching uranium abroad. The talks are set for October 19 in Vienna.
The uranium would be enriched to a low level needed for energy and research purposes, which Iran says are its only nuclear aims. A much higher level of enrichment is needed to create nuclear weapons.