China urges fresh nuclear talks with Iran

China urges fresh nuclear talks with IranNew York, Jan 6 - China's UN Ambassador Zhang Yesui called Tuesday for more negotiations and diplomacy to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear programme.

Zhang, speaking as president of the UN Security Council in January, said diplomatic efforts are underway to work out a settlement.

"This is not the right time for sanctions," Zhang said in reply to reporters' questions whether the 15-nation council under his presidency would consider additional sanctions on Iran for rejecting repeated UN demands to end its uranium enrichment programmes.

Zhang said diplomats from six countries involved in the talks with Iran are scheduled to meet mid-January to discuss the "next steps" in dealing with Iran. The countries involved are the Security Council's five permanent members - the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain - plus Germany.

He said the nuclear talks need "more time and patience."

"Trying to bridge differences and to find a settlement need space, and there is still space for such efforts," Zhang said.

The council has imposed in the past three years a series of sanctions to curb Iran's needs for nuclear technology and resources. But those measures have failed to slow down Iran's expansion of its uranium enrichment programme, which Western governments say is the cover for manufacturing nuclear weapons.

In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tuesday the government would welcome new talks.

"We would welcome a return to the course of understanding if we witness a pragmatic approach (by world powers) towards our legitimate (nuclear) rights," he told reporters in Tehran.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday her government had not closed the door on negotiations with Iran in the nuclear dispute. (dpa)