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Diplomacy 'Key to Resolve Iran Nuclear Issue'
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China seeks resolutions to the Iran nuclear issue through diplomatic negotiations, and will maintain its constructive role in achieving this goal, Premier Wen Jiabao told visiting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Beijing yesterday.

Wen reiterated his country's support for the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, and highlighted the grave concern felt by the Security Council over Iran's nuclear program, a concern which led to UN Resolution 1737.

Olmert's three-day China trip is the final leg of his journey to all five permanent members of the UN Security Council aimed at assessing consequences of Iran's potential nuclear-weapon capability.

Zhu Weilie, a researcher on the Middle East, gave his opinion that Olmert's biggest mission during the trip is to exchange views with the Chinese government on the issue.

Five days earlier, Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani visited China and conveyed Iran's stance on the nuclear issue. During talks with Larijani, President Hu Jintao expressed the hope that Iran would respond seriously to Resolution 1737.

China's efforts to kick-start the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and re-launch the peace process will also be high on the agenda.

Wen said China supports the peaceful co-existence of Israel and Palestine and sees the Palestinian issue as the core of the Middle East issue. It hopes Israel, Syria and Lebanon will take substantive measures to build mutual trust and create conditions for the restart of peace talks.

"History and reality have proven that force cannot settle the Middle East issue but only increase estrangement and animosity," Wen said. "China is ready to contribute to the Middle East peace process and to dialogue between the Arab world and Israel."

Olmert spoke of Israel's willingness to resolve the Middle East issue through peaceful negotiations and expressed appreciation for China's long-term efforts in the region.

The visit by Olmert, who is scheduled to meet Hu today, is also to mark the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.

Being a descendent of a Jewish family that lived in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Olmert said he had a spiritual connection with the country.

"I wish my parents were alive for them to be able to see that we are back to the place where my family came from to strengthen the friendship of two great nations and two great countries," he told Wen.

(China Daily January 11, 2007)

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