'Normal China-Iran business ties shouldn't be sanctioned'

China claims its commercial ties with Iran do not harm other countries; Clinton urges China to pressure Iran on nuclear program.

china flag 311 (photo credit: Jason Lee / Reuters)
china flag 311
(photo credit: Jason Lee / Reuters)
BEIJING - China and Iran have normal business ties which should not be targeted by any new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Friday, repeating that in any case sanctions were not the solution.
Iran already faces a wide range of UN sanctions, as well as some imposed unilaterally by the United States and the European Union.
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US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton urged China to utilize its ties with Iran to pressure the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program, AFP reported Friday.
Speaking with Chinese Foreign MIinister Yang Jiechi in Hawaii before an Asia-Pacific conference, Clinton said "it was critical for China to communicate both publicly but also privately with Iran that they were on a course that was dangerous," according to an official that attended the meeting.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing,"Just like many countries, China and Iran have transparent and normal commercial dealings."
"These dealings benefit the peoples of both countries. They do not harm the interests of other countries nor the international community and they do not violate Security Council resolutions. Even less do they detract from China's stance on nuclear proliferation," he added.
"I wish to reiterate that dialogue and cooperation are the most effective channel for resolving the Iran nuclear issue. Pressure and sanctions do not help to fundamentally resolve the problem."
He did not give a direct answer when asked whether new unilateral US sanctions would harm ties with Beijing, saying only that dialogue and cooperation were the pressing task.
Western governments would prefer further Security Council measures against Tehran. But Russia and China, both permanent Security Council members with veto power, are opposed and say new sanctions would not work.
China, which has kept close ties with Iran, has also backed past UN Security Council resolutions criticizing Iran's position on nuclear issues and authorizing limited sanctions.
Iran is China's third-largest crude oil supplier, shipping 20.3 million tons in the first nine months of the year, up by almost a third on the same period last year, according to Chinese data.
China has repeatedly resisted Western proposals for sanctions that could seriously curtail its energy and economic ties with Iran.