Sat, Apr 03, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Obama urges China to help increase the pressure on Tehran

REUTERS , BEIJING AND WASHINGTON

US President Barack Obama urged Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) to help ratchet up pressure on Iran over its nuclear activities, but Hu did not openly commit to new sanctions on Tehran, official reports said yesterday.

Obama and Hu discussed the growing international push to curb Iran's nuclear plans in a telephone call that followed China's agreement on Wednesday to enter into serious talks about possible new UN-backed sanctions against Tehran.

“President Obama underscored the importance of working together to ensure that Iran lives up to its international obligations,” the White House said in a statement after the hour-long telephone call, which took place late on Thursday Washington time.

“The idea is to keep turning up the pressure [on Iran],” Obama said in a separate interview with CBS television taped earlier this week and aired yesterday.

“We're going to ratchet up the pressure and examine how they respond but we're going to do so with a unified international community,” Obama said.

Iran's top nuclear envoy, in Beijing for talks, sounded defiant but gave no sign China had budged on its decision to consider backing a new UN Security Council resolution aimed at his country.

In remarks reported on Chinese state television, Hu told Obama that he opposes the spread of nuclear weapons, but no comments directly broaching Iran or sanctions were mentioned.

“China has always taken seriously the issue of nuclear security, and opposed nuclear proliferation and terrorism,” Hu said.

The Chinese president's reported comments and remarks from his foreign minister showed that while Beijing may be ready to consider new sanctions against Iran, it is not prepared to publicly commit to supporting them, leaving much room for haggling in the UN Security Council.

China is one of the five Security Council permanent members, each wielding the power to veto any resolution and thus block proposed UN sanctions.

The chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili told reporters yesterday, after meeting the Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (楊潔箎) in Beijing, that the two sides agreed sanctions had “lost their effectiveness.”

“We consider sanctions as opportunities,” Jalili was separately quoted by Iran's official IRNA news agency as saying. “We will continue our [nuclear] path more decisively.”

However, Jalili stopped short of saying Beijing would oppose them, and said it was up to China to explain its stance.

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