Fri, Apr 09, 2010 - Page 6 News List

China confirms it will attend meeting to discuss Iran

AFP , BEIJING

China confirmed plans to meet with other world powers in New York yesterday to discuss the next steps to be taken against Iran over its suspected nuclear program.

“China will participate in the relevant discussions,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu (姜瑜) told reporters.

“China still believes dialogue and consultation are the best way to solve the nuclear issue,” she continued.

The talks bring together the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the US — plus Germany, who have been negotiating with Iran for months.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in Paris on Wednesday that China had agreed to join the so-called P5+1 talks in New York, but admitted he was unsure if sanctions would be on the table.

“What will this discussion be like? Will we be able to talk about a text, of content? Will we be ­going through the motions? I don’t know,” Kouchner said.

China has until now refused to back Western calls for new sanctions against Tehran and last week played host to the Islamic republic’s chief nuclear negotiator.

Beijing has a close diplomatic and trade relationship with Iran, dominated by its imports of Iranian energy resources.

Last week, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said China was ready for “serious ­negotiations” on Iran — a move hailed by the White House as an “important step” — but Beijing has so far not signaled any policy shift.

The US and its allies suspect Iran is secretly trying to develop an atom bomb, but Tehran says its nuclear drive is purely for civilian energy purposes and that it has the right to such nuclear technology.

Russia has also been reluctant to agree new sanctions but has taken a harder line on Iran’s nuclear program in recent weeks.

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