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. Bush seeks Chinese support for tough action against Iran
WASHINGTON, April 20 (AFP) Apr 20, 2006
President George W. Bush on Thursday pressed China's President Hu Jintao to support tough action against Iran's nuclear programme and to put more pressure on North Korea over its nuclear arsenal.

Hu did not give public backing to Bush's calls for a possible UN resolution against Iran that could allow for action ranging from economic sanctions to military strikes.

And the Chinese leader acknowledged that efforts to engage North Korea over its declared nuclear arsenal had also hit "difficulties".

But Hu did say China was ready to work with Washington to achieve negotiated settlements to the twin crises, which dominated the international segment of the landmark summit on Hu's first official visit to Washington.

Bush said after the talks that he had raised the possibility of the UN Security Council passing a resolution against Iran's refusal to end its nuclear activities under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter.

Chapter Seven allows for sanctions ranging from trade and transport barriers to military strikes, though US officials insist they want a diplomatic solution.

Bush said the United States and China had a "common goal" that Iran should not have a nuclear weapon or the know-how to make one.

He wanted "to send a common message to the Iranians that China and the United States and the EU-3 countries (Britain, France and Germany) all are deeply concerned about the Iranian ambition."

Washington has been seeking international backing, particularly from the Security Council's five permanent members, for possible sanctions against Iran if it does not give up its nuclear programme.

China has spoken out against sanctions and Hu said only that "both sides agreed to continue their efforts to seek a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue."

The Chinese leader was more outspoken in his defence of Beijing's role in trying to coax the unpredictable North Korean regime back to disarmament talks with China, the United States, Russia, South Korea and Japan.

The Stalinist North has been boycotting the talks since last year and Bush urged Hu Jintao to use China's "considerable influence" over North Korea to revive the efforts.

Hu called for patience however.

"The six-party talks have run into some difficulties at the moment," the Chinese president said.

"I hope that the parties will be able to further display flexibility, work together and create necessary conditions for the early resumption of the talks."

Bush said "I appreciate China's role as the host of the six-party talks, which will be successful only if North Korea makes the right strategic decision: to abandon all its nuclear weapons and its existing nuclear programmes as pledged to the other five parties."

But he echoed a comment made Monday by Deputy US Secretary of State Robert Zoellick that China, which has hosted the talks since 2003, needs to be "more than a mediator".

China hit back at what was seen as US criticism of its role.

Hu said: "As our friends may know, on the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, China has always been persuading the parties to reconcile and promote talks for a peaceful solution. And we have always been making constructive efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula."

The Chinese leader said little about what could be done to persuade Iran or North Korea to end their nuclear activities. But he did indicate a willingness to work with Washington.

"We are ready to continue to work with the US side and other parties concerned to peacefully resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic negotiations," Hu said.

Both leaders acknowledged their major role on the international stage as the world superpower and a superpower-in-waiting.

"We intend to deepen our cooperation in addressing threats to global security, including the nuclear ambitions of Iran, the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, the violence unleashed by terrorists and extremists, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," Bush said.

All rights reserved. 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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