China Pushes Iran to Return to Talks on Sidelines of Security Summit

Posted June 14th, 2011 at 12:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Chinese President Hu Jintao has urged his Iranian counterpart to resume six-nation talks as soon as possible, to guarantee Iran's right of the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Both Mr. Hu and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, for the annual summit of the Asian regional alliance known as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

President Hu told his Iranian counterpart that Tehran should take substantial steps to establish trust and promote dialogue, in the interest not only of Iran but for peace and stability in the Middle East as a whole.

Mr. Ahmadinejad told Mr. Hu that Iran is willing to return to talks with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. But last week he rejected a report by the United Nations nuclear agency, saying it would have no bearing on Iran continuing its nuclear activities.

Last week, China joined Western powers in expressing concern about Iran's consistent failure to comply with U.N. resolutions about “possible military dimensions” of its controversial nuclear program.

Iran is being sanctioned by the West for its controversial nuclear development. Tehran says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.

The Iranian and Chinese leaders are joining their counterparts from Russia and the four central Asian countries of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan for the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on Wednesday, as the group celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Also attending the summit are the presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as India's foreign secretary.

The alliance is considering expanding its membership for the first time beyond original members China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have observer status. All but Mongolia are applying for full membership.

The summit is the latest in a series of international meetings hosted by Kazakhstan, which in recent months has welcomed a summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the annual meeting of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

The oil-rich, Muslim majority nation is considered to be the most stable country in the volatile Central Asia region.