Page last updated at 15:35 GMT, Wednesday, 3 June 2009 16:35 UK

Lieberman: 'No Israeli plan' to bomb Iran

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Moscow
Mr Lieberman is making his first visit to Moscow as foreign minister

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said his country is not planning unilateral military action to disable Iran's nuclear programme.

Speaking on a visit to Moscow, he said it was not Israel's job to deal with Iran alone, which he described as "a threat to the entire world order".

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu says Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear arms and refuses to rule out use of force.

Iran denies it seeks nuclear arms and says its programme is totally peaceful.

Israel, which is widely believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed state, has repeatedly described Iran's uranium enrichment programme as a threat to its existence.

Israeli officials frequently say all options are on the table to stop Iran from using it to build atomic weapons.

Speaking in Russian, Mr Lieberman said: "I have been asked by Saudi journalists about when Israel plans to bomb Iran. We are not planning to bomb Iran."

"We do not have a need... Israel is a strong country and we can defend ourselves."

The right-winger, who grew up in the Soviet Union, has a reputation for outspoken rhetoric: it is not clear how his words square with other policy statements on Iran by Israeli government officials.

Israel's main ally, the US, plans to engage Tehran in direct talks in an effort to end the nuclear standoff.

In an interview with the BBC broadcast on Tuesday, Mr Obama said he wanted to see serious engagement from Iran on the nuclear issue by the end of 2009.

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