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iranian chinese flags 311.(Photo by: AP)
China to send Iran gasoline
As UN mulls sanctions, Beijing fills void left by European firms.
SINGAPORE — A state-owned Chinese refiner plans to ship 30,000 metric tons of gasoline to Iran after European traders halted shipments ahead of possible new UN sanctions, according to Singapore ship brokers.

Beijing has growing commercial and political ties with Iran and has resisted US pressure for sanctions to press Teheran to abandon its nuclear program. Chinese officials say the country is entitled to energy trade.

Unipec, the trading arm of China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Sinopec, plans to load the oil tanker Hongbo with the gasoline Thursday in Singapore, said the brokers, who asked not to be identified further to avoid jeopardizing customer relations.

They said the tanker will likely go directly to Iran.

The gasoline shipment suggests Chinese refiners are moving to fill the void left by European suppliers, who halted sales to Iran earlier this year.

A deputy Chinese foreign minister, Cui Tiankai, said Tuesday that China is ready to discuss all ideas that UN Security Council members put forward to deal with Iran's nuclear program. But he said any agreement on Iran must involve all parties, not just one or two countries.

Cui said Iran's legitimate right to have energy trade with other countries should not be undermined as the world pursues a settlement of the nuclear standoff. Beijing's position on energy could make it more difficult for the United States and China to resolve differences on Iran.

Iran denies it intends to build an atomic bomb, and despite widespread concern about its intentions, President Barack Obama is having difficulty getting agreement on a new set of UN sanctions. He said Tuesday that his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, assured him that Beijing would participate in drafting sessions at the United Nations on strong sanctions.
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