04/01/2010, 00.00
CHINA – IRAN

Beijing wants peaceful solution to Iran nuclear standoff

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang says China is in favour of talks with the 5+1 group but favours diplomacy over sanctions. Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator arrives in Beijing today.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China favours a peaceful solution to the Iran nuclear issue, but is willing to open serious talks with the 5+1 group, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, starts a visit to China today. Chinese President Hu Jintao announced he would attend an international meeting on nuclear security scheduled for 12-13 April in Washington.

China will “join hands with other parties to make efforts toward a peaceful and proper resolution of the issue,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said. In so doing, China will take part in talks in New York with the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Russia on drafting tougher sanctions intended to dissuade Iran from developing nuclear weapons, US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said.

However, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator is Beijing at a time when US President Obama is pushing for new sanctions. This appears to confirm China’s partial support for Tehran’s position.

For the US leader, the time for new sanctions has come. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, currently visiting at the White House, agrees.

Iran has been both conciliatory and rigid in the nuclear talks. It has accepted in principle the proposal made by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to exchange of enriched uranium for nuclear fuel, but it wants that exchange to take place on Iranian soil.

Moreover, Iran’s demand that its stock of 20 per cent enriched uranium from its research reactor be exchanged gradually is proving a major obstacle.

Despite Russian and (even more so) Chinese reservations, the 5+1 group have threatened new sanctions in the Security Council if Tehran does not accept the IAEA proposal, which calls for the exchange to take place outside Iran.

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