Jiechi Miliband 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
China showed no sign Tuesday of throwing its support behind new sanctions against Iran following talks with Britain's foreign minister, who had hoped to persuade Beijing to join a growing international consensus for more stringent measures.
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi maintained that sanctions weren't the solution to disagreements over Iran's nuclear program and that more talks were the way forward.
"Sanctions do not provide a fundamental solution to the Iranian nuclear issue. Ultimately, this issue has to be appropriately resolved through peaceful negotiations," Yang said at a joint news conference with Britain's David Miliband following their discussions in Beijing.
With Russia appearing to move closer to supporting new sanctions, China — which depends on Iran for much of its energy needs — would be the only one of five veto-wielding permanent UN Security Council members opposed to the measures.
Further punishment of Iran is among a host of issues dividing the nations, whose relations deteriorated badly last December after China ignored personal appeals from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown not to execute 53-year-old Akmal Shaikh for drug smuggling.
Shaikh's family said he was mentally unstable and was lured to China from a life on the street in Poland by men playing on his dreams to record a pop song for world peace.
Brown said he was "appalled" by the execution — China's first of a European citizen in nearly 60 years — prompting a warning from Beijing that such comments threatened to damage ties.
Even before that exchange, the two had clashed over who was to blame for the failure to reach a binding agreement on emissions reductions at December's UN-sponsored Copenhagen climate talks.
Neither Yang or Miliband offered indications of a clear improvement in ties following the discussions.
However, a state television report about Miliband's courtesy call on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was somewhat more upbeat.
China "highly values" relations with Britain and invites British companies to explore opportunities in the booming Chinese economy, CCTV quoted Wen as telling Miliband.
Miliband said rights dialogue was a part of Britain's "strategic partnership" with China and indicated Beijing's diplomatic disputes with Europe were not seen as part of a larger rivalry.
"I don't believe China is a political competitor of the European Union," he said.
Iran, Miliband said international concern was rising over its nuclear
intentions, citing Iran's refusal to agree to stop processing uranium
and instead accept shipments of nuclear fuel processed overseas and the
UN's inability to exclude the possibility of military dimensions to the
Iranian nuclear program.
Without mentioning sanctions directly,
Miliband said China and other nations remained united behind the goal
of ensuring Iran does not become a nuclear weapons state.
"The fact that we have a shared goal leads me to believe that we can find the tactics to achieve it," Miliband said.