Russia signaled that it may be ready to back sanctions against Iran in what is being seen as a reward for President Obama's decision to scale back a U.S. missile shield in Eastern Europe.
"We believe we need to help Iran to take a right decision," said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev after the two leaders met on the sidelines of the U.N. assembly.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has taken a softer tone on many matters since arriving in New York for the U.N. meetings, emphasizing his interest in improving relations with the U.S. and expressing an openness to include nuclear matters on the negotiations agenda. Still, in his speech to the General Assembly on Wednesday night, Ahmadinejad made no explicit reference to nuclear matters or prospective sanctions.
The U.S. and Russia are among six countries that will hold talks in Europe next week with Iran over its nuclear ambitions. Obama wants to reserve the possibility of pursuing tougher sanctions if those meetings lead to no restraint by Iran in the weeks ahead. Russia, which has strong economic ties with Tehran, has stood in the way of stronger action against Iran in the past.
"We also both agree that if Iran does not respond to serious negotiations and resolve this issue in a way that assures the international community that it's meeting its commitments, and is not developing nuclear weapons, then we will have to take additional actions and that sanctions, serious additional sanctions, remain a possibility," Obama said.
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