Livni pushes China to break with Iran

Beijing: FM implies that the need to pressure Teheran supercedes China's economic interests.

Livni china 224 88 (photo credit: AP)
Livni china 224 88
(photo credit: AP)
Countries must unite in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons technology, even if that clashes with their own narrow economic interests, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Monday. "Behind almost every conflict that we have in the Middle East, one can see the long arms and shadow of Iran," Livni said in a speech to university students in Beijing, where she is seeking Chinese support for new UN sanctions. "If this dangerous regime... masters the technology of developing nuclear weapons, then the stability that we are trying to build in the Middle East will vanish," Livni said, citing Iran's support for Hizbullah and Hamas. China backed two rounds of UN sanctions, but has since joined Russia - like it, a veto-wielding permanent Security Council member - in opposing further measures. China's opposition stems in part from its strong economic ties with Teheran, and last week China's Foreign Ministry criticized sweeping new US unilateral sanctions against Iran, saying those measures would only further complicate the situation. In an apparent reference to China's economic links to the regime, Livni said countries must set aside their economic interests and "think about the grave implications that a nuclear Iran would have on the stability of this planet." By supporting sanctions, countries are "fighting for the future of the free world as such, even though doing so requires also some concessions when it comes to some interests of some states in the region," Livni said. During her visit, Livni was also due to meet with Premier Wen Jiabao and her Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi in an attempt to garner Chinese support for further sanctions. Separately on Monday, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui suggested that Wen would discuss the Iranian nuclear issue with top Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, when he visits Russia early next month. Li said the two sides would discuss "issues of mutual interest" but indicated that China's stance would not change. "We believe that diplomatic negotiations to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue peacefully is the best way and accords with the interests of various parties," Li said. Livni said the current sanctions had already forced Iran to moderate its behavior. Israel expects the international community to "take the same steps in a very short period of time, because time works against us," Livni said. Livni's visit also comes amid international pressure on Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a common vision of a final peace deal before the peace conference expected to take place in Annapolis in November or December. Livni said China had a "crucial role to play" in ensuring a permanent two-state resolution to the Palestinian issue.