U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says the United States' current relations with China are the best they have been in more than 30 years, largely due to Beijing's efforts to exercise its influence on regional affairs in Asia.

In a U.S. television interview, Mr. Powell praised China for taking a major role in six-party negotiations over North Korea's nuclear program during the past year. He also credited China with a key diplomatic role in settling the dispute that brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war two years ago.

Mr. Powell says the United States has noted China's efforts to strengthen and modernize its military forces, and will continue to observe how China's leaders work with their neighbors to deal with regional problems. He added that the United States will watch future developments in China "with caution, but at the same time not with fear."

The American secretary said Washington sees Beijing as a partner, together with U.S. allies Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Australia, in future efforts "to make sure that Asia remains a stable, safe place."

In his interview Saturday with CNBC's Wall Street Journal Report, Mr. Powell also expressed concern about Iran's nuclear ambitions and its ties to terrorist groups. However, he said the United States does not intend to intervene in Iranian affairs and believes it is up to the Iranian people to decide their own future.