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Iran's Top Nuclear Negotiator In Beijing

By Edward Lanfranco
Beijing (UPI) Jan 26, 2006
Iran's principal nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani was in Beijing Thursday seeking Chinese support before a key vote next week concerning its nuclear ambitions.

The European Union has requested an emergency session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board of governors on Feb. 2-3 calling for members to vote on referring Iran to the United Nations' Security Council after it resumed a uranium enrichment program earlier this month after two and a half years.

Iran's referral to the Security Council will likely include efforts to move toward international sanctions, stemming from the West's fear of uranium enrichment, a key component that Iran may seek to build an atomic bomb.

Larijani, who also serves as secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, held meetings with China's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan. China and Russia have been unwilling to allow the issue to go to the Security Council.

United Press International asked foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan about the substance of the talks and to explain China's position regarding uranium enrichment.

Kong said Larijani was in Beijing at the invitation of the Chinese foreign minister and that "topics of discussion were Sino-Iranian relations and unavoidably the current nuclear issue plus other items of mutual interest.

"Li clearly stated the Chinese government's concern on the current developments hoping that relevant parties can take concrete actions to alleviate the current situation," he added.

The spokesman said, "China stressed that it serves the interests of various parties to solve the issue through dialog and negotiations. We hope they can exercise restraint and patience to step up diplomatic efforts before the special meeting of the IAEA in February and create conditions for the resumption of talks."

Kong did not provide a clear answer on his country's position concerning Iran's uranium enrichment except to say "it is part of the Iranian nuclear issue."

Asked if China supported the Russian proposal to enrich uranium for Iran's reactors, Kong replied, "we believe it could be a helpful attempt to break the stalemate." He added, "China supports all diplomatic efforts and constructive proposals to seek a proper solution."

The spokesman told reporters Iran nuclear issue is complex. "We have witnessed twists and turns in the past several months. Diplomatic negotiations remain the solution to this question. We are working vigorously to promote parties to press ahead with dialog and negotiations."

Kong was also asked if China had any role to play in the Russian proposal and if it was willing to initiate a multilateral forum for the Iran problem as it had for North Korea with the six party talks

"Up to now the Chinese government has not received any official invitation from Iran to participate in the uranium enrichment program made by Russia," Kong said.

Kong downplayed the creation of another six party type group. "China believes that negotiations should be held within the framework of the IAEA but the key point is to break the stalemate which requires various parties."

"We oppose the use of sanctions or threats of sanctions. It will only complicate the issue," the spokesman said.

State-run media carried the remarks made by Tang Jiaxuan in his afternoon meeting with Larijani which took place at Zhongnanhai, the headquarters compound of the Chinese government in central Beijing.

Tang explained China's viewpoint on the current situation saying "the Chinese side is concerned about possible escalation of the situation. The State Councilor was quoted by Xinhua hoping "all parties concerned will step up diplomatic effort to create favorable conditions before the IAEA vote."

Larijani held a press conference at the Iranian embassy Thursday night before returning to Tehran. UPI asked him how close the positions of his country and China and Iran were on the issue of enriched uranium and if the two side had any differences.

"We have common position on the matter of the NPT and the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy," Larijani said.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator stated, "we are a member of NPT and a member of IAEA; we have allowed in the IAEA monitoring bureaus, but we have our rights too."

He ended by saying, "We (and the Chinese) have the same ideas; these points should be followed in a specific and technical bodies and the best body for this is the IAEA."

Source: United Press International

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Washington (UPI) Jan 25, 2006
While U.S. senators introduce the possibility of military action against Iraq, Western diplomats are banking on the threat of sanctions to convince Tehran to abandon its uranium enrichment program.

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