'Progress made on third UN resolution on Iran, with China's help'

US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns says he appreciates "constructive spirit" of Chinese.

December 3, 2007 20:49
2 minute read.
'Progress made on third UN resolution on Iran, with China's help'

burns 224.88. (photo credit: AP [file])

International talks on a third United Nations sanctions resolution on Iran have taken "a step forward" with China's cooperation, a senior US official said Monday. "I was particularly pleased of the fact that we made progress in our deliberations with the Chinese government," said US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, the chief American participant in Saturday's closed door, high-level talks in Paris. The clamor for new sanctions - led by the United States, Britain and France - mounted after Friday's collapse of an 18-month EU effort to persuade Iran to stop uranium enrichment. China, a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council, together with Russia, had been reluctant to support a third set of sanctions. Burns said he had met with China's assistant foreign minister, He Yafei, before they both joined discussions with the other countries. "I appreciated the constructive spirit of the Chinese side in the meetings," Burns told reporters in Singapore, where he met with officials to discuss bilateral and regional issues. "We were able, with the Chinese government, to focus on a number of areas where we would agree to sanctions." "There's more work that needs to be done, but it was a step forward for us," he said. The Chinese Foreign Ministry did not immediately comment. In a notice on the ministry's Web site posted Sunday, he was quoted as saying the international community should solve the Iranian nuclear issue diplomatically - but he did not mention sanctions. Burns said the Russian government still had to be consulted on the sanctions resolution because the Russian official scheduled to attend the talks, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak, had been stuck in Canada because of snow. "Now if we can bring the Russians on board, we'll have the makings of a third Security Council resolution and that would be very welcome news indeed," Burns said. A French diplomat had said following the talks that a compromise text on a new resolution would be circulated among the six countries involved in negotiations - the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany - next week. The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the talks, said he was "relatively optimistic" about having a resolution in the coming weeks. The UN Security Council imposed sanctions in December 2006 and March this year. The current set bans Iranian arms exports and freezes the assets of 28 people and groups involved in its nuclear and missile programs.

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