Reuters: A senior Iranian diplomat arrived in Beijing on Thursday to discuss Tehran’s nuclear standoff as China repeated its position that the conflict should be resolved through negotiation. BEIJING (Reuters) – A senior Iranian diplomat arrived in Beijing on Thursday to discuss Tehran’s nuclear standoff as China repeated its position that the conflict should be resolved through negotiation.
Top world powers have been in talks over stiffer sanctions after Tehran ignored a U.N. deadline to stop enriching uranium, a process that can produce fuel for power plants or bombs.
Iran says it is entitled to nuclear power to generate electricity and wants to negotiate with the Europeans and Washington without giving up its right to enrich uranium.
U.N. sanctions were first imposed on Iran in December, barring the transfer of technology and know-how to its nuclear and missile programs. The resolution said further measures could follow if Iran refused to halt enrichment by February 21.
Iran said on Tuesday it would never suspend uranium enrichment as demanded by the West, a day after world powers agreed to work on a new U.N. resolution to pressure Tehran to back down.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Eraqchi was due to hold talks with Chinese officials in Beijing that would cover the nuclear dispute, a spokesman for Tehran’s embassy told Reuters.
The spokesman, Mahmoud Rezvani, said he could give no details of the visit, which is due to end on Friday.
China maintains that the nuclear dispute should be resolved through diplomatic negotiation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a news conference on Thursday.
“Under present circumstances, we hope that Iran can positively respond to the concerns of the international community and U.N. Security Council resolution 1737,” he said.
That resolution on December 23 gave Iran 60 days to comply with limits on its uranium enrichment or face possible sanctions.
Officials from the five permanent U.N. Security Council members — the United States, France, Russia, China and Britain — plus Germany, meeting in London on Monday, also said they were committed to a negotiated resolution to the standoff.
Along with Russia, China has been among the powers most reluctant to contemplate force or harsh sanctions against Tehran, saying that would only escalate confrontation.
“The international community should exercise calm and restraint and continue applying diplomatic efforts, including outside the Security Council, to promote the revival of negotiations as early as possible,” spokesman Qin said.
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told a news conference in Beijing on Thursday that France was trying to find common ground between the various Security Council members.
“France’s key role is to be a balancing point between the Americans and Britons who always want more sanctions and the Chinese and the Russians who don’t want to go that far with sanctions,” he said.
A united front from the international community was crucial if Iran was to make a strategic decision to either opt for isolation or suspend its sensitive nuclear activities and open itself to negotiations, he said.