China and Iranian presidents to meet next week

The Chinese and Iranian presidents will discuss the Iranian nuclear dispute during a separate meeting next week in Shanghai on the sidelines of a regional summit, the Chinese foreign ministry said Thursday. President Hu Jintao will play host to his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, along with the leaders of Russia and four Central Asian countries who comprise the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said Hu and Ahmadinejad will hold consultations aside from the group meeting. Iran is attending the gathering as an observer, but Ahmadinejad's presence is raising expectations that China and Russia will broach a new European offer of incentives for Iran to relinquish its nuclear enrichment program. "I think the Iranian nuclear issue will be talked about," Liu said at a regular press briefing in response to a reporter's question about what the leaders will discuss. "China and Iran have communicated and will continue to communicate on the Iranian nuclear issue in order to enhance our mutual understanding so as to make continuous efforts to reach a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic negotiations," he said.