China renewed its support Friday for negotiations over Iran's disputed nuclear activities, the muslin country’s interior minister said and warned that new U.N. sanctions could force Iran to adopt "other means."
Mostafa Pour Mohammadi said he had reached a consensus over the issue in meetings in Beijing with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and senior foreign policy adviser Tang Jiaxuan.
"The two sides agreed that other methods such as sanctions are inappropriate and ineffective," Pour Mohammadi told reporters at the Iranian Embassy.
Asked whether China had urged more active cooperation with the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency, Pour Mohammadi replied, "It's natural that our friends in other countries hope that talks conclude successfully."
China's official Xinhua News Agency quoted Yang as saying China supported a negotiated settlement and opposed the spread of nuclear weapons.
"China would like to continue its efforts to push forward the peaceful resolution of Iran's nuclear issue," Xinhua quoted Yang as saying.
China, one of five permanent veto-holding members of the U.N. Security Council, has urged Iran to cooperate with U.N. inspectors but has thwarted attempts by fellow permanent U.N. Security Council members - the U.S., Britain and France - to impose harsh U.N. sanctions on Iran.
Undeterred, the U.S. has said it will still push for new penalties unless Tehran scraps technology that could produce nuclear bombs.
Pour Mohammadi declined to elaborate on statements by other Iranian officials that new sanctions could lead Tehran to end cooperation with the IAEA.
However, he said Iran would choose a different approach if dialogue fails.
"If dialogue doesn't work, then we will employ other means," Pour Mohammadi said.
"Unfriendly relations with the IAEA is not something we wish to see happen," he said.