Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned major powers on Wednesday against intimidating Iran and said talk of sanctions against the Islamic Republic over its nuclear programme was "premature".
Putin, who many diplomats, analysts, and Russian citizens believe is still Russia's paramount leader despite stepping down as president last year, was speaking after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Moscow for two days of talks.
"There is no need to frighten the Iranians," Putin told reporters in Beijing after a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
"We need to look for a compromise. If a compromise is not found, and the discussions end in a fiasco, then we will see."
"And if now, before making any steps (towards holding talks) we start announcing some sanctions, then we won't be creating favourable conditions for them (talks) to end positively. This is why it is premature to talk about this now."
Clinton failed to secure any specific assurances from Russia on Iran during her visit, leaving her open to criticism at home that she had not received anything from Moscow after earlier U.S. concessions on missile defence.
Iranian, Russian, French, U.S. and U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency officials will meet in Vienna on Oct. 19 to discuss how to implement a plan agreed in principle at talks in Geneva for low-grade Iranian uranium to be enriched overseas to a purity suitable for nuclear reactors but not weapons. (CONTINUES HERE)