China will send a senior diplomat to attend international talks on the Iranian nuclear issue in Geneva on Saturday.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao announced that Liu Jieyi, assistant foreign minister, would participate in the talks between Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and diplomats from the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and the European Union.
China has always advocated resolving the Iranian nuclear issue "through diplomatic negotiations and by peaceful means," Liu said, reiterating China's stance.
He hoped all relevant parties would seize the opportunities and show flexibility so as to to gear up dialogue and negotiations at an early date and comprehensively and properly resolve the issue in the long run.
Earlier media reports said that William Burns, the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, would also attend.
"China welcomed such a decision," Liu said.
He said Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jieyi would exchange views with all sides, including the United States, during the talks in effort to push forward the peace process of the Iranian nuclear issue.
Burns is the U.S. State Department's third highest ranking official. His scheduled meeting with Jalili will be the highest-level contact between the two nations since 1979.
Iran and the United States broke off diplomatic relations after the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis in Tehran amid the 1979 Islamic Revolution in that country. Official contact between the two countries was extremely rare.
The White House reiterated that despite sending Burns to Geneva, Washington would only join full-blown talks if Iran gave up its uranium enrichment activities.
(Xinhua News Agency July 18, 2008)