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China to Host International Meeting on Iran

The Chinese government says it hopes the Iranian nuclear issue can be resolved through peaceful dialogue. VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Beijing China also announced it is hosting the next round of international talks on Iran.

The next high-level international meeting on Iran will be held April 16 in Shanghai.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Jiang Yu announced the meeting at a regular briefing in Beijing.

She says the main purpose of the meeting will be to discuss strategies to persuade Iran to resume nuclear talks at an early date. She called for all parties concerned to display "creativity and flexibility" in seeking a "comprehensive, long-term and proper" solution.

Participants will include the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia - as well as representatives from Germany and the European Union.

China has been a host for the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. Jiang says China is also ready to play a more active role in the Iran process.

Jiang says she hopes the Shanghai meeting will have positive results.

China and Russia have opposed harsh Security Council sanctions against Iran and have worked to water down efforts to impose harsh penalties on Tehran for its nuclear defiance. The first set of U.N. sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program were passed in late 2006.

On a related issue, Jiang last week dismissed media reports quoting unnamed senior diplomats, who accused China of providing intelligence about Iran's alleged nuclear arms program to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Chinese spokeswoman called the reports "totally groundless, and out of ulterior motives."