China and Iranian FM discuss nuclear programs

China's foreign minister told his Iranian counterpart Friday that Beijing backed a diplomatic solution to resolve the international dispute over Iran's nuclear program, the Chinese government's news agency reported. China's Li Zhaoxing conveyed Beijing's desire "to peacefully resolve" the nuclear issue in a telephone conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, the Xinhua News Agency reported. The brief report gave no further details of their discussions on the dispute, in which Iran has defied Western and UN-pressure to stop enriching uranium, which can be used for nuclear power or nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported Thursday that Iran had not only failed to abide by a Feb. 21 deadline set by the UN Security Council to suspend enrichment, it had expanded the program. Among the council members, China, which is a large customer for Iranian oil and gas, and Russia have been reluctant to punish Iran while the United States and European allies have called for tougher measures.