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Germany and China call for unity on Iranian nuclear programme

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Germany and China call for unity on Iranian nuclear programme
Steinmeier and Jiechi in New York. Photo: DPA
08:03 CEST+02:00
The foreign ministers of China and Germany have agreed that world powers must be united in their approach to Iran over its disputed nuclear programme, a diplomatic source said.

Yang Jiechi of China and Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier met late Thursday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly after the five UN Security Council members plus Germany canceled a meeting this week on Iran's sensitive nuclear work.

"Both ministers underlined the importance of the 3+3 format and called for a united front on the issue," the source said on condition of anonymity. The three European partners on Iran, France, Britain and Germany, plus three permanent Security Council members Russia, China and the United States decided to call off a meeting of their foreign ministers on Iran Thursday in New York.

The cancelation came after Moscow pulled out of the event, complaining Washington sought to "punish" it, apparently over the Georgia crisis. Moscow also cited US refusal to hold meetings this week of the Group of Eight industrial countries, composed of the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Italy and Germany.

The United States and Russia appeared to climb down from the dispute Wednesday, agreeing here to hold further ministerial-level meetings in the future on Iran's nuclear programme.

The West says Iran aims to produce an atomic bomb - a charge Tehran strongly denies. But China and Russia have been reluctant to seek new sanctions against Iran despite its continued defiance of the UN nuclear watchdog.

Steinmeier warned repeatedly after the meeting's cancellation that it would be difficult to bring pressure to bear on Iran to stop uranium enrichment if world powers did not demonstrate unity.

The source said Yang and Steinmeier also discussed last month's war in Georgia and that Yang had also stressed his country's interest in stability in the region. They also covered the US financial crisis and said it pointed up the need for better "international financial regulations."

They added that they hoped a US rescue package would quickly be passed by the Congress and that it would stem the global impact of the market turmoil.

Steinmeier said earlier that he was pleased Chinese-German ties were returning to normal after a rift last year over Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to meet the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, at her office. He announced that a regular bilateral dialogue on human rights would resume in November.

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