Iran top nuclear negotiator heads to Beijing

08:16, April 01, 2010      

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Iran's state media has reported that the country's top nuclear negotiator is heading to China to discuss possible U.N. sanctions against Tehran over its disputed nuclear program.

Iranian state television reported Wednesday that Saeed Jalili will travel to China Thursday for talks with senior Chinese officials concerning the nuclear program.

The U.S. and other Western powers are pushing for a new round of U.N. sanctions on Iran over its persistent defiance to halt its uranium enrichment program.

China wields veto power on the UN Security Council and has been advocating patience and negotiations in stead of hardcore penalties on Tehran. Western diplomats have lately reported that they believe Beijing may be changing its stance.

China is ready for "serious" talks at the United Nations on Iran's nuclear program, the United States government said Wednesday, as it vigorously sought support for harsher sanctions.

"China has agreed to sit down and begin serious negotiations here in New York," the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said on CNN television.

Rice said the talks would take place between the six big powers –the five permanent members of UN Security Council plus Germany - coordinating a response to Iran's controversial push for what it says is a civilian nuclear capacity, but which Washington says could mask a military program.

Rice said that Washington was pushing for "tough" sanctions against Iran in the UN Security Council, where China has veto power on any resolution. "This is progress, but the negotiations have yet to begin in earnest,"Rice said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also upbeat, saying the P5+1 group -- permanent council members Britain, China, France, Russia, United States, plus Germany – "continues to be unified."

"There will be a great deal of further consultation, not only among the P5+1, but with other members of the Security Council and other nations during next weeks," Clinton said.

By People's Daily Online


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