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China welcomes multilateral talks on Iran

Written by: Staff
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BEIJING, Mar 28 (Reuters) China today said it welcomed multilateral talks set for later this week to discuss Iran's disputed nuclear programme, adding there was still room to defuse the crisis through negotiation.

Foreign ministers from the UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany will meet in Berlin on Thursday to try to build consensus on what action to take on Iran, which the West believes is trying to make nuclear weapons.

"The six-nation talks are an important part of international efforts for resolution through negotiation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news briefing.

"China will be open to any suggestion helpful to resolving the Iran nuclear issue through negotiation." UN Security Council powers have been trying to agree on a statement to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions, but Russia, backed by China, opposes stronger wording that asks Tehran to suspend efforts to enrich uranium.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported Iran to the Security C3ouncil after it restarted sensitive nuclear work earlier this year. Tehran says the work is for peaceful purposes, but Western powers fear it is seeking nuclear bombs.

Qin said China's position on resolving the standoff was consistent.

"The effectiveness of the nuclear non-proliferation regime should be safeguarded and we should resolve this issue through negotiation," he said.

REUTERS SB BST1419

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