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Bush seeks China support on N Korea, Iran

By Staff
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WASHINGTON, Apr 20 (Reuters) US President George W Bush urged Chinese President Hu Jintao to support US efforts to halt nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea, while Hu counseled flexibility and diplomacy in the disputes.

The latest six-party talks on North Korea -- involving North Korea, South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia -- ended without progress in November. China is North Korea's main benefactor and key ally.

''We've got a mutual interest in seeing that the Korean Peninsula is nuclear weapons-free,'' Bush said in the White House Oval Office after meeting Hu.

Hu said China was seeking reconciliation and a peaceful solution to the issue. ''The six-party talks have run into some difficulties at the moment. I hope that the parties will be able to further display flexibility, work together and create necessary conditions for the early resumption of the talks.'' Bush also said the United States and China had a common goal of ensuring that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon or the capacity to build one.

Earlier, at a White House arrival ceremony, Hu said China would work with the United States and others on both Iran and North Korea.

China wanted to resolve the issues ''through diplomatic negotiation, to uphold the international non-proliferation regime and safeguard peace and stability,'' he said.

The Bush administration has declined to rule out military action, but said it prefers diplomacy in both disputes.

China, a veto-holding member of the UN Security Council, has been reluctant to embrace punitive action against Iran such as imposing sanctions.

Bush said one of the tactics he discussed with Hu was adopting a UN Security Council resolution under a provision of the UN charter, known as Chapter 7, that would make demands such as suspending uranium enrichment legally binding on Iran.

Such a resolution would send ''a common message to the Iranians that China and the United States and EU3 (European) countries all deeply are concerned about the Iranian ambition,'' Bush said.

Britain, France and Germany are the so-called EU3 that have been negotiating with Iran on its nuclear program.

As a first step after the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency report next week on Iran's nuclear activities, the United States, Britain and France hope for a Chapter 7 resolution putting demands on Iran.

But US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice suggested the resolution also include targeted sanctions such as a freeze on individual's assets abroad or a travel ban, although Russia and China were considered unlikely to agree.

''China is an important voice in international affairs. And I will continue to work with the president to strategize as to how best to achieve our important goal, which is ... an Iran without the capacity, the know-how, or a nuclear weapon,'' Bush said.

REUTERS SC PM0140

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