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German Leader Says China Agrees Iran Should Not Have Nuclear Weapons


German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the Chinese premier agrees with her that Iran should not possess nuclear weapons.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel came to China hoping to build a greater consensus against Iran's plans to develop its nuclear capabilities.

Comments to reporters after her Monday meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao indicated some success for the German leader, who is on her first trip to China since taking office last year.

She said she and Mr. Wen were in agreement on Iran, including the need for Tehran to follow the rules of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"The politics vis-à-vis Iran was an important part of our talks. We agreed that Iran should not be able to possess nuclear weapons, and that it needs to stick to the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and the rules of the IAEA," said Ms. Merkel.

She also said she believes she and the Chinese leader found a good basis on which to coordinate future steps regarding Iran.

Chinese officials had no immediate reaction to Ms. Merkel's comments.

China until now has only suggested Iran should not have nuclear weapons, but has defended Tehran's right to develop a peaceful nuclear program within international guidelines.

Tehran admits it is enriching uranium, but only, it says, for peacetime energy production. The United States and EU nations, including Germany, believe Tehran is intent on developing nuclear weapons, and have called for United Nations sanctions against Tehran if it does not abandon its nuclear program.

China, and Russia, members of the U.N. Security Council, have been at odds with the western nations over how to deal with Iran's nuclear intentions. Both Beijing and Moscow oppose the idea of sanctions.

Beijing, which depends significantly on Iranian oil to fuel its growing economy, has called for a diplomatic solution instead.

Germany, Britain and France are drafting a package of trade and other benefits they hope will persuade Tehran to stop enriching uranium. China says it hopes the package will help move all sides toward a peaceful solution.

Ms. Merkel said she also raised the issue of human rights in her talks with Mr. Wen, a topic she said is "unavoidable."

The German leader has criticized efforts by some in the European Union to lift an EU ban on weapons sales to China. The European Union imposed the ban after the Chinese army's violent 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

Ms. Merkel arrived in China on Sunday, heading a delegation of about 40 business leaders and ministers who are hoping to secure trade deals. German and Chinese leaders on Monday signed a number of cooperation agreements in areas including intellectual property rights, high-speed railroad technology and communications.

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