News / Asia

Germany Seeks China's Help on Iran

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) shakes hands with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao before a news conference in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, February 2, 2012.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) shakes hands with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao before a news conference in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, February 2, 2012.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is urging China to help the international community persuade Iran to abandon any ambitions it may have for nuclear weapons. Her comments came Thursday, at the start of an official trip to China.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao welcomed Chancellor Merkel to Beijing's Great Hall of the People Thursday. Some of the issues expected to top the agenda include Iran and the Eurozone debt crisis.

Earlier in the day, Merkel told reporters she has already had what she described as “long” discussions with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao about Iran.

She acknowledged that China does not support calls for new sanctions against Iran, but she urged China to,“use its influence” to emphasize to Iran that the world should not have another nuclear power.

The European Union imposed an oil embargo on Iran last week. China is the biggest buyer of Iranian oil, but has scaled back its purchases in the past two months as the two sides reportedly haggle over the terms of the 2012 contract.

Zhang Lihua, a European studies professor at Tsinghua University, says China opposes what it sees as interference by other countries in Iran's internal affairs.

Merkel says she believes the German leader will try to find out China's latest views on Iran, but that Beijing will not change its position "just because of the E.U.”

The Eurozone crisis is another pressing issue. In a speech delivered at a government think tank, the German leader said China can make contributions to help solve high debt problems in Europe, but she gave no specifics.

Tsinghua's Zhang says she does not understand how Europeans can expect China to be their financial savior.

Merkel says many of the Eurozone countries are developed countries, and China is only a developing country. Why should a developing country go to save a developed area? she adds.

At the same time, Europe is China's largest export market, and Zhang says Beijing is aware that a European debt crisis could endanger Chinese exports there. She says she does not expect China to engage in any “massive or large-scale intervention” in Europe, but will continue to buy up what she described as an “appropriate amount” of European debt in line with its own national situation.

On Friday, Merkel meets with President Hu Jintao and travels to Guangzhou, a southern commercial city, to attend a Sino-German business forum.

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