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Friday, January 15, 2010

China to send lower-level envoy to talks on Iran

Thursday, 14 January 2010
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China has decided to send a lower-level official to attend talks in New York on Saturday about Iran's nuclear programs, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday.

The development caused consternation and perplexity among others in the group, which includes Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany, with several diplomats saying they did not know what was behind Beijing's decision.

The other nations are expected to send their foreign ministry political directors to the meeting, which the United States and its Western allies hope will focus on discussing fresh sanctions to impose on Iran over its nuclear activities.

The United States accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of its civil nuclear program. Iran says its nuclear program is designed to generate power so it can export more of its valuable oil and gas.

"We are aware that their representation will be below the level of political director," said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. "It will be a useful meeting to have regardless of the Chinese representation."

"We are going to continue to engage China, and other countries, to convince them that the urgency of the situation requires not only additional engagement, which China does support, but additional pressure, which obviously China is still working through," he told reporters.

(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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