China to participate in Geneva talks on IranJuly 17th, 2008 - 8:38 pm ICT by IANS
Beijing, July 17 (Xinhua) China Thursday announced that it would send a senior diplomat to Geneva to attend the international talks on Iranian nuclear standoff slated for Saturday. Assistant Fforeign Minister Liu Jieyi will represent China in the talks which will primarily be between Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Javier Solana, foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said here Thursday.
Diplomats from the US, Russia, Britain, France and Germany will also attend the talks as observors.
During the talks, the diplomats will discuss the new incentive package offered by the EU in order to persuade Iran to halt its controversial uranium enrichment activities, which the Western countries believe are a cover to produce nuclear weapons. Iran, however, insists that its nuclear programme is of peaceful purpose and meant only for generating electricity.
“China has always advocated to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic negotiations and by peaceful means,” Liu said, reiterating China’s stance.
He hoped all relevant parties would seize the opportunities and show flexibility so as to gear up dialogue and negotiations at an early date and comprehensively resolve the issue in the long run.
Earlier media reports said that William Burns, the US undersecretary of state for political affairs, would also attend the talks.
“China welcomed such a decision,” Liu said.
He said Jieyi would exchange views with all sides, including the US, during the talks in effort to push for a peaceful settlement of the Iranian nuclear standoff.
Burns is the third highest ranking official of the US State Department. His scheduled meeting with Jalili will be the highest-level contact between the two nations since 1979.
Iran and the US broke off diplomatic relations following the US embassy hostage crisis in Tehran amid the 1979 Islamic Revolution in that country. Official contact between the two countries was extremely rare.
The White House reiterated that despite sending Burns to Geneva, Washington would only join full-blown talks if Iran gave up its uranium enrichment activities.