China urges Iran to abide by UN resolutions

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BEIJING, Nov 20 (Reuters) China urged Iran today to abide by UN resolutions calling for it to curtail nuclear activity while also saying there was space for negotiation.

China has faced rising calls from Western powers to back stricter sanctions against Tehran, which Washington and its allies say seeks the ability to make nuclear weapons through a uranium enrichment programme.

Iran says it merely wants to develop nuclear power plants.

''China hopes Iran will effectively abide by UN Security Council resolutions,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a news conference.

He said China was willing to remain in contact with other council members on the issue but believed there should be further space for negotiation with Iran.

Beijing has backed two previous rounds of UN sanctions against Iran, but also wants to preserve ties with a country that is a major supplier of oil.

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Beijing has the power to block or pass such sanctions.

Western officials said China had refused to join Britain, France, Germany, the United States and Russia on Monday to assess a UN nuclear watchdog report on Iran's nuclear programme, forcing the meeting's cancellation.

REUTERS ARB KP1406

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