BEIJING (AFP) — A top US diplomat urged China on Thursday to back a new UN resolution against Iran over its nuclear programme as Tehran's top atomic negotiator arrived in Beijing to lobby against such a move.
Visiting US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte told reporters he would raise the issue in a bilateral senior-level meeting to be held in southwest China's Guizhou province Thursday and Friday.
A wide range of other matters would be on the agenda in the US-China talks, including Taiwan, human rights and trade, as well as international issues such as North Korea and Sudan, he told reporters in Beijing.
"We think it is important that there be an additional Security Council resolution because Iran is out of compliance with previously passed resolutions," Negroponte said.
"That is the argument that will be presented to the Chinese authorities."
Negroponte's comments came as Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili arrived in Beijing.
Jalili would meet with Chinese officials over the next two days, including foreign minister Yang Jiechi, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman told reporters.
"The two countries will exchange views on bilateral relations and the nuclear issue," spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.
But she declined to offer support for Negroponte's call for a new UN resolution, instead reiterating Beijing's oft-repeated preference for further negotiations.
"On the Iranian nuclear issue, our position is consistent. We hope that Iran will abide by (an existing) UN resolution and demonstrate flexibility and work with the international community," she said.
"We also hope the international community will intensify diplomatic efforts for an early resumption of negotiations," she said.
Although a recently issued US intelligence report said Iran has likely suspended research into designs of a nuclear warhead, Negroponte said it was violating an existing UN resolution by carrying out uranium enrichment.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will further seek Beijing's support for a new resolution when she meets Yang Jiechi in Berlin next week, Negroponte added.
Rice will join her counterparts from Germany, Britain, France, Russia and China to discuss new sanctions and other elements of a resolution, US officials announced in Washington on Wednesday.
Iran denies charges it is seeking a nuclear weapon, insisting its programme is peaceful and aimed at providing energy for its growing population.
China, which has growing energy ties with Tehran, routinely calls for further talks rather than aggressive UN action against Iran.
In comments quoted by Iran's state news agency IRNA, Jalili poured cold water on the idea of a new resolution.
"Iran's rational behaviour and international developments will not allow anyone to do such things," he was quoted as saying in Beijing, adding that Tehran expected continued Chinese support.
"Our Chinese friends have so far replied to Iran's 'goodwill' and we expect that they will continue these good relations."
Negroponte further voiced Washington's opposition to a Taiwanese referendum on the island's participation in the United Nations, calling the vote "provocative."
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP, has planned a referendum alongside March presidential polls on joining the UN under the name "Taiwan."
China has strongly opposed the referendum as a move that would bring Taiwan closer to formal independence, an act that Beijing has vowed to counter even if it means military action.
The DPP is facing growing pressure after suffering a stinging defeat in legislative elections over the weekend.
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