BEIJING – China rejected the idea Thursday that more sanctions would pressure Iran to give up its nuclear program.
Instead, greater diplomatic efforts are called for, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters at a regularly scheduled news conference, reiterating a long-held stance.
The comments came a day after President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia — which like China has backed limited sanctions against Iran, but opposed tougher measures — opened the door to supporting further sanctions.
That potentially could bring a shift in China's position, since Beijing usually follows Moscow's approach on such matters, although it was still too early to say. Foreign Ministry spokespeople generally stick to prepared answers in answering questions from reporters, and true changes in China's position can be difficult to detect.
The maneuvering comes ahead an Oct. 1 meeting of diplomats from Iran, the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany on Tehran's nuclear program.
"We believe that sanctions and the application of pressure are not the way to resolve problems and do not benefit current diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue," Jiang said. "We hope all the relevant sides seize the opportunity at hand, step up diplomatic efforts and push for positive results" at the meeting.
China and Russia both wield veto power on the United Nations Security Council, and any shift in their positions would clear a major hurdle to tougher sanctions against Iran. The other three permanent members — Britain, France and the U.S. — tend to favor stiffer measures against Iran.
All three mentioned Iran, along with North Korea, as obstacles to a safer world during a Security Council meeting Thursday that approved a resolution committing all nations to achieving a nuclear weapons-free world.
The resolution does not mention any country by name but it reaffirms previous resolutions that imposed sanctions on Iran and North Korea for their nuclear activities. It does not call for any new sanctions.