February 12, 2012 / 3:17 PM / 6 years ago

Chinese envoy visits Tehran for nuclear talks

TEHRAN (Reuters) - A senior Chinese diplomat arrived in Tehran on Sunday to discuss Iran’s nuclear programme, amid differences between China and the West over how to resolve the dispute it has caused.

The semi-official ISNA news agency said China’s assistant foreign minister, Ma Zhaoxu, met a member of the Supreme Council of National security, Ali Baqeri, for talks on Iran’s stalled nuclear talks with six world powers, as well as bilateral ties.

The agency quoted Ma as saying China was interested in accelerating talks between Iran and the P5+1 group, comprising the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia and Britain.

Iran says its nuclear programme is to meet its energy and medical needs. Western nations suspect it has military aims.

China has repeatedly said that the only way to resolve the issue is through dialogue and cooperation.

Tensions rose last month when EU leaders agreed to embargo Iranian oil and put in place further measures against Iran’s central bank. China is one of the largest users of Iranian oil, buying around one fifth of total exports.

The EU is also a major consumer and member states have until July to find alternative sources.

ISNA earlier quoted Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi as saying President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would soon visit China.

Reporting by Hashem Kalantari; Writing by Marcus George; Editing by Alistair Lyon

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