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China urged Iran on Thursday to halt uranium enrichment and step up efforts to reach a peaceful, negotiated solution to an international dispute over its nuclear program.
"We hope that Iran can give a positive response to the appeal of the international community and faithfully abide by resolution 1737," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang at a regular news briefing.
Iran has ignored a UN deadline set in the Dec. 23 resolution to halt the enrichment of uranium, which the US says is part of a secret effort to build nuclear weapons. Enriched to a low level, uranium is used to produce nuclear fuel but highly enriched uranium can be used in an atomic bomb.
Qin said the international community should "keep calm and make efforts, including efforts outside the framework of the UN Security Council to push forward the resumption of negotiations."
China has repeatedly spoken out against the use of sanctions and other types of force against Iran but has also been part of discussions focused on finding ways to pressure Iran to suspend enrichment. Senior diplomats from the five permanent Security Council members and Germany met Monday in London to discuss the issue.
Officials in London and Washington said new measures would likely include incremental restrictions on trade and arms.
However, sharp differences appear to remain between the US position and what Russia and China, veto-holding council members with close ties to Iran, are willing to accept.