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. China says sanctions not meant to punish Iran
BEIJING, March 4 (AFP) Mar 04, 2008
China said Tuesday a UN Security Council vote to tighten sanctions on Iran was not meant to punish the Islamic regime, but merely intended to trigger more diplomacy over its nuclear programme.

The Chinese foreign ministry made the comment after the Security Council voted overwhelmingly on Monday to tighten UN sanctions in its latest bid to pressure Tehran into suspending uranium enrichment.

"The purpose is not to punish Iran, but to push for the resumption of negotiations and activate a new round of diplomatic efforts," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement posted on the ministry's website.

China's ambassador to the United Nations, Wang Guangya, made similar remarks in New York, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

"(The measures) are not targeted at the Iranian people and will not affect the normal economic and financial activities between Iran and other countries," Wang was quoted as saying. "All the sanctions are reversible."

China is an important player in international efforts to solve the Iranian issue because it is a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council.

It is also engaged in a six-nation push to halt Iran's nuclear programme, along with the four other permanent Security Council members -- the United States, Russia, Britain and France -- as well as Germany.

"Diplomatic negotiation is the best way to solve the Iranian nuclear issue," Qin said in the statement.

"China urges all parties to adopt a responsible and constructive attitude and show the necessary flexibility to seek a complete, long-term and proper solution to the Iranian nuclear issue via negotiations as soon as possible."

The West fears the know-how gained from uranium enrichment could give Iran the capability to build nuclear weapons.

But the Islamic republic, which adamantly refuses to halt enrichment work, insists its nuclear programme is peaceful and geared only toward production of electricity.

Monday's Resolution 1803, sponsored by Britain, France and Germany, was backed by 14 of the council's 15 members. Indonesia abstained.

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