Reuters: China and Britain agree on pressing Iran about its nuclear activities while also seeking engagement, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said at the start of a visit likely to focus on the nuclear dispute. By Farah Master
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China and Britain agree on pressing Iran about its nuclear activities while also seeking engagement, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said at the start of a visit likely to focus on the nuclear dispute.
Speaking in Shanghai on Monday before heading to Beijing, Miliband said the two powers — both permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — shared an interest in ensuring Tehran abides by Security Council resolutions seeking to curb its nuclear activities.
"Britain and China have not only agreed on the goals that Iran should respect the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but also respect that we need to keep a combination of engagement and pressure," Miliband told reporters at the Shanghai World Expo site.
He arrived in China on Sunday as part of a three-day visit to boost ties and cooperation between the two countries.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the international pact seeking to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons beyond the formally recognised nuclear-armed states, including China and Britain.
Despite Miliband's upbeat comments, his talks in Beijing about Iran could be difficult.
Western powers want China to approve a proposed U.N. resolution imposing new sanctions on Tehran, which they say wants the means to make nuclear weapons and has violated non-proliferation safeguards.
Tehran denies that its nuclear programme is aimed at developing weapons and says it wants to enrich uranium to power planned electricity plants.
Beijing has previously resisted calls for harsh sanctions against Iran, a big source of oil for China, which as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council has the power to veto any resolution.
While China has said it supports a "dual track" approach, presenting the prospect of negotiations or sanctions to Tehran, Beijing has a weaker appetite for sanctions.
China and Britain have also sparred over climate change negotiations and Beijing's stance on human rights, after China executed a Briton for drug smuggling, although his family said there was convincing evidence that he was mentally ill.
Miliband will hold talks with Premier Wen Jiabao and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Beijing on Tuesday.
"We don't pretend to agree on everything," said Miliband. "Our relationship is one of many layers and one of growing strength and growing engagement."
(Editing by Chris Buckley and Sugita Katyal)