(photo credit: AP)
China, under pressure to take a harder line on Iran's nuclear plans, announced Monday it is sending its foreign minister to Teheran for talks.
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will visit Iran on Tuesday at the invitation of his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki, ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said.
According to a report on the official Xinhua News Agency, Liu said Yang "will exchange views with the Iranian side on China-Iran relations, the Iran nuclear issue as well as regional and international issues of common concern."
Western countries led by the United States, Britain and France want to impose strong sanctions on Iran aimed at persuading Tehran to abandon its nuclear program, which they say is a covert attempt to obtain atomic weapons.
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
China agreed to earlier sanctions against Iran from the UN Security Council, but has argued against further tough economic measures. Beijing's refusal reflects both its traditional distaste for such intervention and its diplomatic and economic ties to Iran.
China has been urged to take a stronger stance on Iran during recent visits to Beijing by US Defense Robert Gates and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
The European Union has also said China's cooperation was important.
"We have an important and intense cooperation with China regarding Iran," said Serge Abou, the European Union ambassador to Beijing.
"Obviously, on the question of nonproliferation, we are in full agreement on principle. Both China and Europe are opposed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons," Abou told reporters.
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