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Britain Puts Pressure on China to Back UN Sanctions on Iran

  • Peter Simpson

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband Tuesday pushed China to unite with other members of the United Nations Security Council to back sanctions against Iran over its nuclear development program.

During talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, British Foreign Minister David Miliband attempted to bring Beijing into the international fold and back sanctions against Iran.

And he appeared to make a small but significant breakthrough when Yang told reporters after their meeting China was becoming more concerned about the issue of Tehran's nuclear development program.

Yang says Beijing will work more closely with other world powers on Iran.

But he also said China still believes diplomacy is the best way forward and said sanctions were not the solution to disagreements over Iran's nuclear program.

Beijing considers Iran an ally and relies on the country for vital oil imports.

Miliband was more robust and expressed a growing impatience with Iran which the West believes is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons.

"I am determined to work with China and other members of the P5+1 (UN Security Council members plus Germany) to send a very clear message to the Iranian regime, namely they can be treated as a normal country on nuclear matters when they behave as a normal country," Miliband said.

Miliband's three-day trip is the first high level meeting between Beijing and London after the two governments clashed over climate change, Iran 's nuclear program and the execution of British citizen Akmal Shaikh at the end of last year.

Miliband also said he raised human rights with the Chinese - especially the case of activist lawyer Gao Zhisheng.

The Chinese government refuses to reveal where he is despite repeated requests from his family, human rights groups and governments.

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