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. China rebuffs Israel on Iran nuclear sanctions
BEIJING, Oct 30 (AFP) Oct 30, 2007
China said Tuesday it remained opposed to further sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, despite the visiting Israeli foreign minister's call for stronger action.

"We consider that the decision to impose sanctions should not be made lightly. At present, the Iranian side is seeking to solve the issue through talks," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters.

"Under the current circumstances we do not support further sanctions, as that would worsen the situation."

Liu was responding to a question about Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's call for China to support "dramatic" sanctions against Iran in an effort to stall its nuclear drive.

Livni, who met with Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi during her three-day visit, on Tuesday insisted that stronger sanctions were vital for coercing Iran into giving up its nuclear activities.

"Iran exploits and abuses the willingness of the international community to open dialogue with Iran," she told a press briefing.

"We believe that strong, immediate, broader sanctions can change the situation and we'll focus on that."

She said the Middle Eastern region would be destabilised if Iran was allowed to possess nuclear weapons, but stopped short of commenting on her talks with the Chinese leadership on the issue.

Israel and the United States have been most vocal in accusing Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran has always denied the charge, insisting its nuclear programme is only for civilian energy use.

Livni's visit comes a week after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert travelled to Britain, France and Russia with similar demands for tougher sanctions against Iran, which Israel and the West accuse of pursuing nuclear weapons.

Iran has always denied the charge, insisting that its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes only.

With its permanent UN Security Council seat and substantial energy interests in Iran, China's support is considered vital for any measures against Tehran.

China has so far opposed tough action, calling instead for a negotiated end to the impasse.

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