China has urged Iran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying there was still time for diplomacy to resolve the dispute over the country's nuclear ambitions.
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said Tuesday that Iran has the right to peaceful nuclear power. But he said Iran must also fulfill its commitments under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
He called on Tehran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The I.A.E.A. is meeting in Vienna this week to consider sending the dispute to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions against Iran.
"We hope Iran can fully cooperate with the I.A.E.A. and adopt more measures that can help boost trust," he said.
Iran says it is enriching uranium for a peacetime energy program. The European Union and the United States believe it actually intends to build a nuclear weapon.
The Western nations have been pushing for Iran to be referred to the Security Council. China -- one of five permanent Security Council members with veto power over U.N. actions -- has opposed such a move.
The foreign minister, speaking to reporters during the annual meeting of China's National People's Congress, also rejected criticism of Beijing's double-digit increase in military spending. He said the United States spends much more.
"China's national defense policy is transparent, it is completely defensive in nature," he said.
Analysts, however, say Beijing's military spending is much higher than government figures show. The military build-up has raised concerns in Washington, Tokyo and Taipei.
Li pledged to work towards reducing the large trade surplus between the U.S. and China, although he called the situation "complicated." He also said the U.S. should ease restrictions on high-technology exports. Washington does not allow the export of technology to China that could be used for military purposes.
Li's comments came ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington next month, where such items as technology exports and the U.S. trade deficit are expected to be on the agenda.