Britain denies split with China over Iran nuke programme
British Foreign Secretary denied any split with China over Iran.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband denied any split with China over Iran on Tuesday and gave a strong hint that Britain backed more financial sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear programme.
Britain and five other powers discussed prospects of further sanctions in New York on Saturday, but China sent only a mid-ranking diplomat to the meeting and made clear it opposed more punitive action at the moment, participants said.
Miliband told parliament it would not be wise to speak publicly about the sanctions being considered.
For example, he said, "when one is considering financial sanctions it doesn't make sense to give six, eight, 10 weeks' notice to some of the entities that might be involved of the sort of financial sanctions that might be coming in".
Britain believed financial sanctions had "an important role to play in exerting pressure at the appropriate points in the regime and not affecting the Iranian people", he said.
Britain said last June it had frozen nearly one billion pounds' ($1.64 billion) worth of Iranian assets under U.N. or European Union sanctions.
Iran says the programme is designed to generate electricity so it can export more of its valuable oil and gas. But Washington and its western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons.
China urged other powers on Tuesday to show more flexibility in dealing with Iran's nuclear programme, playing down prospects of sanctions.
Miliband denied the rest of the six-power group known as the E3+3 were at odds with
China over Iran.
"At no stage was there any suggestion from the Chinese that they want to opt out of the E3+3 unity or that they want to deny the progress that needs to be made," Miliband said.
Asked if the Middle East was sleep-walking towards war over Iran, Miliband said he had faith in a diplomatic resolution.
"We are absolutely committed to the diplomatic track and believe that it can work," he said.
Reuters Last Mod: 20 Ocak 2010, 08:26