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China Says Iran Sanctions Hinder Diplomacy

China says discussions on imposing possible sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program are complicating the situation and hindering diplomacy.

Speaking Thursday during a visit to France, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said threatening Iran with sanctions is derailing efforts to find a diplomatic solution.

Western countries are pushing for a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Iran to try to force the country to enter into negotiations over its nuclear ambitions.

World powers have reacted cautiously to an offer by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to ship uranium abroad for enrichment, as called for in a U.N.-brokered plan.

U.S. officials say it is not clear whether Mr. Ahmadinejad's comments reflect a change in Iran's position on the enrichment plan, or an attempt to ease the pressure for more sanctions against Tehran.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley says the question is whether Iran will tell the International Atomic Energy Agency it is accepting the plan.

Russia says it would welcome a decision by Iran to take the deal. Britain says it would be a "positive" sign for Iran. Germany urged Iran to contact the IAEA and accept the offer.

The deal calls for Iran to give 70 percent of its low-grade uranium to France and Russia, in return for fuel for a nuclear research reactor in Tehran.

Iran has been reluctant to accept the deal, saying it may not get all of its uranium back. It has proposed buying fuel from the West or exchanging smaller quantities of uranium for fuel rods.

Mr. Ahmadinejad said Tuesday Iran has "no problem" with sending the low-grade uranium abroad for enrichment.

Iran has ignored three sets of U.N. Security Council resolutions calling on it to stop enriching uranium. Highly enriched uranium can be used to power nuclear reactors or to make atomic weapons.

Iran says its nuclear program is aimed at producing electricity, but Western nations fear Iran is working to produce atomic weapons.

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