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SEOUL, Aug 2 (Reuters) - A U.S. arms control official on Monday urged China, which has always promoted dialogue with Iran over its nuclear programme, to observe sanctions against Tehran aimed at forcing it to drop its nuclear ambitions.
China said on Friday it did not approve of tougher new sanctions imposed by the European Union on Iran and welcomed Tehran's offer to return to negotiations on a nuclear fuel swap without conditions.
China also denounced the United States earlier this month for imposing its own sanctions on Iran, saying Washington should not unilaterally take such steps outside of U.N. resolutions.
"We want China to be a responsible stakeholder in the international system," Robert Einhorn, special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control at the State Department who oversees sanctions against North Korea and Iran, told a news conference.
"And that means cooperating with the U.N. Security Council resolutions and it means not backfilling, not taking advantage of the responsible restraint of other countries."
U.S. officials have expressed concern that Chinese companies are aggressively investing in Iran's energy sector despite the threat of sanctions.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have reached new heights after the sinking of a South Korean navy ship in March, killing 46 sailors, that the South blames on the North, prompting Seoul to impose sanctions against Pyongyang.
South Korean and U.S. militaries held large-scale drills last month to deter North Korean provocations, drawing an angry response from Pyongyang, which has repeatedly denied involvement in the ship sinking.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last month announced the United States would impose new measures against the North.
"Our hope is that these measures will be effective, that they will provide strong incentives for North Korea's leaders to abide by their international obligations, not to pursue any provocative activities and fulfil completely their commitments to denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula," Einhorn said. (Editing by Nick Macfie)