China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi called Wednesday for international diplomacy to avert an "arms race in outer space."

Space should be reserved for peaceful purposes, Yang told the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

"Outer space is now facing the looming danger of weaponization," he said. "Credible and effective multilateral measures must be taken to forestall the weaponization and arms race in outer space."

China and Russia have been vocal advocates of a global treaty against space-based weapons and argue for this to be included in future Conference of Disarmament negotiations.

The United States has dismissed the criticism as designed to block its plans for a missile interceptor system — while leaving untouched Chinese and Russian ground-based missiles that can fire into space.

"Countries should neither develop missile defense systems that undermine global strategic stability nor deploy weapons in outer space," Yang said.

He added that China welcomed moves to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

"The complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons and a nuclear weapon-free world have become widely embraced goals," Yang said. He appeared to be referring to President Barack Obama's call in April for a "world without nuclear weapons."

"We welcome these developments," Yang said.