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China calls for diplomatic efforts for Iran's nuclear issue
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Related parties should enhance diplomatic efforts and show flexibility in order to find a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, a senior Chinese diplomat said in Geneva on Saturday.

"Currently there is a rare opportunity for promoting the resumption of negotiations on the Iranian nuclear issue," said Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jieyi, who represented China at a meeting here with Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.

"Enhanced diplomatic efforts and flexibility are needed for an early resumption of negotiations so that a long-term, comprehensive and appropriate solution could be found for the nuclear issue," he said.

Saturday's meeting was led by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and attended by senior diplomats from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

The United States was represented by Undersecretary of State William Burns at the meeting. His participation was seen as a shift of long-standing U.S. policy toward Iran, as Washington had always insisted that it would not talk with Tehran unless it halts its uranium enrichment activities.

"It's highly significant that for the first time the political directors of all six countries with Solana were talking with our Iranian colleagues," Liu told reporters.

"It was the shared hope of all parties participating in the meeting that we find a negotiated solution to the nuclear issue," he said.

Both Solana and Jalili said Saturday's meeting was positive and constructive and promoted understanding of each other's positions.

They also agreed to talk again by phone or in person in about two weeks.

At the meeting, Iran failed to give a clear answer to a package of incentives presented by the six countries last month over the resumption of nuclear negotiations.

"We hope very much we get the answer and we hope it will be done in a couple of weeks," Solana told a press conference following the meeting.

The package of incentives suggests that Iran get a temporary reprieve from economic and financial sanctions in exchange for freezing its enrichment activities. Preliminary negotiations over a permanent halt could then begin.

"The package is supported by all six powers ... we think if negotiations could be resumed on this basis and finally a negotiated solution could be found, it will be a very good way out," Liu said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 20, 2008)

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