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Obama: US to Continue to 'Ratchet Up' Pressure on Iran

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States will continue to increase pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.

The president said in an interview that aired Friday that the United States will "ratchet up the pressure" and see how Tehran responds. But he said that will be done with a unified international community.

The U.S. has been consulting with its allies, as well as with key members of the U.N. Security Council, including China and Russia, about hitting Iran with new sanctions for pursuing its controversial nuclear program.

The Obama administration announced this week that China will be a full participant in U.N. Security Council negotiations. And White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday that the U.S. has been pleased with the progress in talks between the two nations.

Iran's chief nuclear envoy, in Beijing for high-level talks, said Friday that China agrees with Tehran that sanctions cannot help resolve the standoff.

Chinese officials did not directly address the remarks by Iranian chief nuclear envoy Saeed Jalili. An earlier Chinese Foreign Ministry statement called for the nuclear dispute to be resolved through dialogue and negotiation, and for all sides to show "flexibility."

The United States and its allies suspect Iran is enriching uranium to develop nuclear weapons, a charge the Islamic Republic denies.

U.S. President Obama told CBS television Friday that Iran will trigger an arms race in the Middle East and destabilize the region if it gets nuclear weapons.

Mr. Obama called Chinese President Hu Jintao late Thursday to ask for cooperation on the issue.

The phone call between took place hours after China announced its president would attend a major two-day nuclear security summit in Washington beginning April 12.

Relations between China and the United States have been strained over a number of issues, including trade, $6.4 billion in U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, and the value of the Chinese currency.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.