Iran lauds China ties ahead of new nuclear talks

BEIJING (BestGrowthStock) – Iran will always be a reliable oil exporter to China as relations are “fantastic,” the country’s ambassador in Beijing was quoted as saying on Monday ahead of talks in Geneva about Tehran’s nuclear program.

The talks between Iran and six big powers — the United States, France, Russia, Britain, China and Germany — which start on Monday are the first in more than year, although Iran has signaled it is not about to back down in a long-running battle over what it insists are peaceful plans for energy production.

While China has backed U.N. Security Council resolutions pressing Iran to abandon its disputed nuclear activities, Beijing has close energy and trade ties with Iran and has opposed unilateral sanctions imposed by Europe or the United States.

“In 2011, Sino-Iran relations will improve, although they are fantastic now. Bilateral trade will continue,” Mahdi Safari, the Iranian ambassador to China, told the Global Times, published by Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily.

“Oil interests are important for Iran-China relations, because Iran is an independent big player in the Persian Gulf,” he said.

“Some Persian Gulf states make promises to Beijing now, but will Beijing believe these promises forever? Iran is always a reliable partner,” Safari added.

Both countries shared a common interest in fighting terrorism, he said.

China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton last week that he hoped the Geneva talks would be constructive.

The six powers are hoping the discussions will focus on Tehran’s disputed nuclear program, but Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly said that uranium enrichment activity will not be up for negotiation.

Iran says its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes.

Pressure on Iran to return to negotiations has increased since June, when the United Nations imposed a fourth round of sanctions on the country, with the measures targeting the leadership as well as shipping and energy interests.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ken Wills and Sanjeev Miglani)

Iran lauds China ties ahead of new nuclear talks