Iran nuclear talks put off due to apparent Chinese rebuff
WASHINGTON, Oct 15 (AFP) Oct 16, 2007
A meeting of world powers on the Iranian nuclear crisis has been postponed in an apparent sign of Chinese displeasure over this week's high profile visit by Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, a US official said Monday.
The Wednesday meeting of top officials from the five UN Security Council permanent members and Germany in Berlin has been postponed to next week, the official said.
"I think they had indigestion ... over the presence of certain spiritual leaders," the official said, indicating that Beijing sought the postponement to protest the US legislature's decision to present the Dalai Lama with the Congressional Gold Medal also on Wednesday.
The ceremony is to be attended by President George W. Bush.
"The Chinese, in this instance, just decided that Wednesday is not the date to have that meeting," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A diplomatic official in Berlin said the meeting was postponed because of "one delegation's scheduling problems."
"Efforts are under way to find a new date" for the huddle of diplomats from Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany, the source said.
Iran has flouted Security Council calls for it to suspend uranium enrichment but insists its atomic drive is entirely peaceful and solely aimed at generating energy.
The parties were to have discussed calls to tighten UN sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.
The United States has been trying to persuade European states and other countries to scale back their economic and political ties with Tehran as a lever to pressure it into backing down in the nuclear crisis.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin said on a visit to Germany Monday that patience had paid off in six-nation talks with North Korea to persuade it to abandon its drive for nuclear weapons, and he called for the same approach with Iran.
Putin is set to travel to Iran later Monday.
burs/ksh/sgAll 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.