Iran Nuclear NewsChina says Iran issue at "critical stage"

China says Iran issue at “critical stage”

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Reuters: China said on Tuesday Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West was at a critical stage and it hoped for an objective exchange of opinion in talks later in the day in Berlin. BEIJING, Jan 22 (Reuters) – China said on Tuesday Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West was at a critical stage and it hoped for an objective exchange of opinion in talks later in the day in Berlin.

The world’s major powers are meeting in Berlin on Tuesday to try to overcome differences over imposing more sanctions on Iran and to keep up pressure on its leadership to curb its nuclear programme.

“We believe the Iran nuclear issue is at a critical moment,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a news conference. “China hopes the international community including Iran will make joint efforts for the resumption of talks so the issue can be resolved properly and comprehensively.”

China has traditionally opposed sanctions and advocated more negotiations, and efforts to persuade it to be more forceful have been undercut by the release of a U.S. intelligence report that said Iran halted its nuclear weapons programme in 2003.

Beijing would also be loath to risk its economic interests in Iran, which was its third-biggest source of crude oil imports last year.

Iran maintains that its nuclear programme is for civilian energy use, but Western powers accuse it of seeking to build an atomic bomb.

(Reporting by Lindsay Beck; writing by Nick Macfie, editing by Ken Wills)

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