AFP: Chinese President Hu Jintao will discuss the Iranian nuclear standoff with Russian leaders during a weekend visit to Moscow, a Chinese official said Wednesday, noting the two sides had “similar views”.
BEIJING (AFP) — Chinese President Hu Jintao will discuss the Iranian nuclear standoff with Russian leaders during a weekend visit to Moscow, a Chinese official said Wednesday, noting the two sides had “similar views”.
Hu will meet President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during the May 8-9 visit, during which he will attend ceremonies marking the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II, the official said.
“The leaders of the two countries will exchange views on international and regional issues of shared interest, which of course includes the Iranian nuclear issue,” Assistant Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping told journalists.
“China and Russia have similar views on this issue.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week admitted that Iran was a “difficult partner” and warned targeted sanctions over Tehran’s contested nuclear programme may become “unavoidable”.
The United States, Europe and others fear Iran is using its civilian nuclear energy programme as a cover for a weapons drive — a charge Tehran has repeatedly denied — and are seeking tough new UN sanctions.
But Beijing — one of the five permanent veto-wielding members of the 15-member Security Council — has been reluctant to embrace more sanctions on Iran, which is a major energy provider to China.
Medvedev has repeatedly said Russia, also a veto-wielding council member, does not rule out further sanctions against the Islamic republic but that they should not hurt the wider population.
Cheng called Hu’s visit to Russia a “major event” that would further cement a relationship founded in the two nations’ victory against German and Japanese forces 65 years ago.
“The friendship between the two sides, forged with blood in the war against fascism, forms the solid foundation and the endless impetus for bilateral relations,” Cheng said.
News of the meeting follows a warning by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that a new round of UN sanctions against Tehran would close the door on diplomatic engagement with the United States.
“The path to that (improved ties) will be shut,” Ahmadinejad told reporters, adding that it would mean a “reversal to the (former US president George W.) Bush era” of confrontation rather than the engagement US President Barack Obama seeks.