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China Reluctant to Support New Sanctions Against Iran


China has hinted it would not support a new round of sanctions against Iran despite Tehran's continued defiance of United Nations resolutions on its nuclear program. The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany are meeting in Berlin to discuss further sanctions against Tehran. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

China's Foreign Ministry Tuesday sought the middle ground on the Iranian nuclear dispute, calling for more efforts from all sides to resolve the issue diplomatically.

China's Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the Iranian nuclear issue had reached a critical moment, but indicated China would not support a new round of sanctions.

Jiang says U.N. Security Council actions should be helpful for the comprehensive, lasting, and proper settlement of the issue. She says in the current circumstances China hopes the international community will intensify diplomatic efforts for an early resumption of negotiations so the issue is handled through negotiations and diplomatic means.

The comments came as the five permanent U.N. Security Council members - Britain, France, Russia, the United States, and China - joined Germany in Berlin for talks on further sanctions.

China has twice supported U.N. sanctions against Iran for refusing to fully cooperate and stop its uranium enrichment program. But, China, along with Russia, has been reluctant to support a third, tougher round of sanctions being pushed by European nations and the United States.

Some analysts believe one reason for China's reluctance may be Iran's oil. Iran is energy-hungry China's third largest source of crude oil imports. China's top oil refiner plans to invest $2 billion in an Iranian oil field.

Last week Washington and Tehran both sent high-ranking diplomats to Beijing seeking China's support on the nuclear dispute.

Many western nations believe Tehran is secretly developing nuclear weapons, while oil-rich Iran says the nuclear program is only for peaceful energy production.

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