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Page added on February 11, 2010

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ANALYSIS – China silence signals softening on Iran sanctions

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s silence sometimes speaks volumes, and with growing international momentum for new sanctions on Iran, Beijing’s recent reticence suggests it may give ground if it can insulate its oil and business ties.

China has repeatedly said in recent months that expanded U.N. sanctions on Iran are not the way to draw Tehran into serious talks about curtailing its uranium enrichment programme, which Western powers say could lay the groundwork for a nuclear weapons capability.

Not of late.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi last week urged more diplomacy with Iran, but did not say whether China backed or opposed fresh sanctions.

At two Chinese Foreign Ministry briefings this week, spokesman Ma Zhaoxu avoided extensive comment, positive or negative, about the sanctions proposed by the West.

“On sanctions, our position has been consistent and clear,” Ma told reporters on Thursday. “We are willing, together with the international community, to continue playing a constructive role in pushing for a resolution of the Iran nuclear issue.”


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