The Guardian 31 October, 2007

Putin strongly warns
against sanctions or war against Iran


Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking at a summit of European Union leaders has once again warned: "Why worsen the situation and bring it to a dead end by threatening sanctions or military action", Putin said in a veiled reference to the US push for harsher international sanctions on Tehran.

"Running around like a madman with a razor blade, waving it around, is not the best way to resolve the situation.

"Not long ago it didnít seem possible to resolve the situation with North Koreaís nuclear program, but we have practically solved it relying on peaceful means", he said at a news conference in Lisbon.

At the same time, Putin reaffirmed Russiaís strong opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons on his trip to Iran last week.

Russia is building Iranís first nuclear plant and says there is no evidence of Iran seeking nuclear weapons.

Putin also strongly warned against supporting Kosovoís independence, which is another contentious issue between Russia and the West. Moscow opposes a Western backed plan to grant the province internationally supervised independence from Serbia.

Putin said that giving independence to Kosovo would encourage separatism in many European nations and ex-Soviet states. "Why keep rocking the foundations of international law and encourage and develop separatism in Europe and the ex-Soviet space?" he said.

On his trip to Lisbon, Putin will face a long-standing series of disagreements that have stood in the way of a strategic partnership agreement with the 27-nation bloc.

Before Putinís departure, Russiaís special envoy for EU relations praised Moscowís relations with Lisbon ó and pointedly reminded European leaders about the key to negotiating with Moscow.

"We donít want to listen to any lectures", Sergei Yastrzhembsky told reporters in Moscow.

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