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China to Play Active Role in Iran Sanctions Debate


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says China is growing more receptive to the idea of taking punitive action against Iran for its nuclear ambitions.

Clinton gave the assessment Monday in an interview with Canadian television in Ottawa, where she is attending a meeting of foreign ministers from the world's eight richest nations.

The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - the U.S., France, Britain, Russia, and China - plus Germany, have been negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program. The Western allies have been calling for an additional round of sanctions against Tehran, but China has consistently opposed them in favor of further dialogue.

Clinton says Beijing now shares the U.S. view that a "nuclear-armed Iran is not acceptable." She says China will be involved as the Security Council discusses whether to impose new sanctions on Iran.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg told reporters in Washington Monday that China recognizes the danger posed by the Iranian nuclear program.

Chinese diplomats joined a conference call last week with counterparts from the other "P5-plus-One" nations to discuss a proposal for new U.N. sanctions.

The Reuters news agency says it has obtained a copy of a statement to be released Tuesday calling on the international community to take "appropriate and strong steps" against Iran over its nuclear program.

Tehran has denied accusations that it is developing a nuclear weapons program.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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