China rejects calls for new Iran sanctions

PARIS: On a high-profile visit to France, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi today rejected calls for new Iran sanctions and defended Beijing’s role in the global recovery.

Yang criticised European protectionism, saying “the door must continue to be open” to Chinese goods and services. He said China would not join the United States, France and other Western powers in calling for sanctions against Iran for its refusal to stop enriching uranium.

“This talk of sanctions at this moment will complicate the situation and stand in the way of finding a diplomatic solution,” Yang said at a public appearance at a French think tank. The United States and its allies fear Iran is using an uranium enrichment drive to secretly develop fissile material for nuclear weapons. Iran says it only wants to produce fuel for a peaceful nuclear energy programme. Yang argued that Iran had not “totally shut the door” to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) efforts to negotiate a deal and argued that diplomacy should be given a chance. Later, the foreign minister sits down with President Nicolas Sarkozy before heading to Germany where he will be the first Chinese foreign minister to attend the Munich Security Conference.

The diplomatic foray comes at a time of European unease over China’s stance on Iran, tensions with the US over Taiwan and calls for Beijing to do more to spur the global recovery. Yang brushed aside suggestion that a stronger yuan would help restore the gaping trade imbalance between China and Western countries as they struggle with the aftershocks of recession.

Israel threatens force

JERUSALEM: Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon on Wednesday raised the possibility of using force to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

“Iran’s plan will probably be stopped by a regime change or, if there is no other choice, by a recourse to force to deprive Iran of its nuclear arms production capabilities,” Yaalon told a security conference in Herzliya, northern Israel. “It is important to continue to make clear to the extremist regime in Iran that all options remain on the table and that ignoring the demands of the international community will probably end in bitter tears for Iran,” he added.

Yaalon also called on the international community to impose even harsher sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme.