Iran nuclear envoy warns West to stop threats
Beijing: Iran's top nuclear negotiator warned the West to stop "threatening" Tehran over its atomic programme on Friday and said China agreed with the Islamic republic that sanctions were no longer useful.
The harsh words from Saeed Jalili came as Western calls mount for tough new punitive action against Iran over its suspect nuclear programme -- action that hinges on the approval of China, which wields a UN Security Council veto.
Beijing has until now refused to back Western calls for new sanctions, and earlier in the day again urged all parties to hold more talks and "show flexibility" in resolving the international standoff over Iran's atomic drive.
In a call to Chinese President Hu Jintao, US leader Barack Obama called for better Sino-US cooperation on the issue, but Jalili tried to suggest that Beijing was heeding Tehran's calls for help.
"Many issues came up in talks on which China accepted Iran's position," Jalili told reporters after talks with Chinese officials including Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and State Councillor Dai Bingguo.
"We jointly emphasised during our talks that these sanctions tools have lost their effectiveness," Jalili said, though he said reporters "must ask China their position".
The Chinese Foreign Ministry was not immediately available to respond to Jalili's comments.
The envoy said the West should change their "erroneous methods" and stop "threatening" Iran, warning that the talks with six world powers including China and the United States could collapse if the West does not back off.
"If they continue with simultaneous talks and pressure, these negotiations cannot succeed," Jalili said.
"China as a large country can play an important role in changing these wrong methods."
The five permanent UN Security Council members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany have been involved in talks with Iran for months to try to end the standoff.
Beijing has a close diplomatic and trade relationship with Iran, dominated by its imports of Iranian energy resources -- a point emphasised by Jalili, who said: "We believe China and Iran's friendly relations will continue."