China's Wen urges Iran to cooperate on nuclear issue

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BEIJING, Nov 3 (Reuters) Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has urged Iran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency and show ''flexibility'' over its nuclear programme, Xinhua news agency said today.

''China respects Iran's rights to the peaceful use of nuclear power and stands for the maintenance of the international non-proliferation system,'' Wen told Iranian First Vice President Parviz Davoudi during a meeting in Uzbek capital Tashkent, the report said.

''China will continue its efforts to push forward the peaceful resolution of the issue,'' Wen added.

''Wen said peaceful negotiation would be the best way to resolve the nuclear issue and he hoped that Iran could further demonstrate its flexibility,'' the official agency quoted a Foreign Ministry statement as saying.

Six world powers, including China, agreed yesterday to push ahead with a third round of sanctions against Iran unless reports later this month indicate Tehran has tried to address their concerns about its nuclear programme.

China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has generally resisted sanctions and instead counselled more talks, but the United States has been pushing for what one US official called more ''tough-minded diplomacy''.

Iran has refused to halt uranium enrichment after two previous UN sanctions resolutions and denies it wants to make atomic bombs, saying its programme is for power generation.

REUTERS SKB ND1726

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