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. China seeks role in Western talks with Iran: report
BERLIN, June 10 (AFP) Jun 10, 2006
China wants a place at the negotiating table in talks on proposals between the Western powers and Iran on Tehran's nuclear programme, the German weekly Der Spiegel says in its edition dated Monday.

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao expressed this wish last week during a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it says.

It quotes diplomats at the German Foreign Ministry as saying Beijing, which has substantial economic interests in Iran, is seeking a place at the negotiating table because it does not want to be a step behind other powers, notably the United States and Russia, in the region.

Der Spiegel also points out that along with Washington, which also has indicated its wish to be involved in talks with Iran, Russia is playing an active role with the European Union-led efforts.

It said Moscow sent a senior diplomat along with the EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana to Tehran last week when he went to give the Western offer to Iranian leaders.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is due in China next week for a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and is scheduled to hold talks on the sidelines with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Saturday that Iran was examining the West's package of incentives to resolve the nuclear crisis and could reply with its own counter-proposals.

Iran insisted Friday it would not stop enriching uranium as world leaders warned the Islamic republic to halt the sensitive nuclear activity within weeks or face the consequences.

Tehran considers uranium enrichment to be its right under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but Western powers, which suspect Iran's nuclear program has military ambitions, want it to suspend the practice.

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