Sarkozy says 'in-depth' talks with Hu on Iran

28th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday he had "in-depth" talks with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao on the Iranian nuclear standoff, as the West pushes Beijing to agree to new sanctions.

France and the United States are seeking China's support for new punitive measures against Tehran over its disputed nuclear programme, but Beijing has so far been reluctant to punish Iran, a major trading partner and source of oil.

"We had in-depth discussions about the Iranian crisis and the G20," Sarkozy told journalists at the conclusion of his talks with Hu, without giving further details.

US Vice President Joe Biden said last week that China would sign on to new sanctions, predicting they could be agreed before the end of the month.

Israel and the West accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of what Tehran insists is an energy programme for purely civilian, not military, purposes.

Hopes that Beijing would join sanctions against Iran rose earlier this month after US President Barack Obama met Hu on the sidelines of a global nuclear summit in Washington.

Hu's entourage said after the talks that Washington and Beijing shared the "same overall goal" on Iran, after months of US efforts to secure Chinese cooperation on sanctions.

China has invested heavily in Iran's energy sector and filled the vacuum left by Western firms that have pulled out in the face of US sanctions and political pressure from US allies against companies doing business with Tehran.

© 2010 AFP

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