US asks China to cooperate on Iran sanctions

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WASHINGTON, Nov 26 (Reuters) US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged China today to support US efforts to impose new UN Security Council sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

China has been stonewalling attempts by the United States and other countries for a third round of UN Security Council sanctions and undermined plans for a meeting in Brussels earlier this month of major powers to discuss further punitive measures against Tehran.

Rice met Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at the State Department on Monday where they discussed Iran, said Rice's spokesman Sean McCormack.

''She outlined the fact that we all share the same goal, and that is that nobody wants to see Iran get a nuclear weapon and that it is important to move forward with a new Security Council resolution,'' said McCormack of the meeting.

The West suspects Iran of trying to build a nuclear bomb and Tehran argues that its nuclear program is for peaceful power generation.

McCormack said political directors of the permanent members of the UN Security Council -- Russia, China, France, Britain and the United States -- as well as Germany planned to meet soon and the United States hoped China would attend.

He had no details on when or where the meeting would be held but said it was likely ''in the next week or so.'' ''She (Rice) encouraged China to play an effective role as they have done over the past year and a half in formulating and passing a Security Council resolution,'' added McCormack.

Asked whether China would send a representative to the next meeting of major powers, McCormack said he would leave it up to China to announce whether it planned to go or not.

China's decision not to attend the Brussels meeting, which was ultimately canceled, dealt a blow to efforts to raise pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.

China said its decision was for ''technical'' reasons and not based on its unwillingness to support fresh sanctions.

Reuters AK VP0023

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