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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

China insists on yet more negotiations with Iran, opposes sanctions

It is not clear what this Chinese statement is meant to convey, other than oppositions to sanctions. The nuclear standoff has been at a critical stage for many months, since Iran announced it was continuing with enrichment no matter what.
Ami Isseroff
 Last update - 11:48 22/01/2008       
China: Nuclear standoff with Iran is at a 'critical' stage
By News Agencies
China said Tuesday that Iran's nuclear standoff with the West was at a critical stage and it hoped for an objective exchange of opinion in talks later in the day in Berlin.
The world's major powers are meeting in Berlin to try to overcome differences over imposing more sanctions on Iran and to keep up pressure on its leadership to curb its nuclear program.
"We believe the Iran nuclear issue is at a critical moment," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a news conference. "China hopes the international community including Iran will make joint efforts for the resumption of talks so the issue can be resolved properly and comprehensively."
China has traditionally opposed sanctions and advocated more negotiations, and efforts to persuade it to be more forceful have been undercut by the release of a U.S. intelligence report that said Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.
Beijing would also be loath to risk its economic interests in Iran, which was its third-biggest source of crude oil imports last year.
Germany's foreign minister said Tuesday that the result of a meeting of six key powers in Berlin will show Iran that concerns remain over its nuclear program.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in an interview on Germany's ARD television before the meeting that he was not sure whether the meeting would result in a resolution on new sanctions. But, he said, he is "confident we will come to a result that will show Iran once again that our concerns are not eliminated and the resolve of the international community of states, including Russia and China, remains."
Iran said on Tuesday any new international sanctions against it would not succeed in forcing the country to halt its nuclear program.
Iran maintains that its nuclear program is for civilian energy use, but Western powers accuse it of seeking to build an atomic bomb.
"The Iranian nation moves in the framework of its legitimate and legal rights ... and a possible ratification of a new [UN sanctions] resolution will not have an impact on our nation's behavior," government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham told a news conference.

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