BEIJING, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Iran should seize the opportunity and seek positive results at the new round of P5+1 talks on its nuclear program, Chinese President Xi Jinping said.
Speaking to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on telephone ahead of the new round of talks in Geneva beginning Wednesday, Xi, whose government favors negotiations instead of new sanctions on Iran, said the new round is in the direction of a political settlement of the nuclear program issue.
Xi told Rouhani the previous round in Geneva involving the five permanent members of the U.S. Security Council plus Germany helped defuse tensions, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The five permanent members are Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.
Xi urged that Iran seize the opportunity for broadest consensus during the current round, adding China, as one of the participants, is willing to work to create conditions for a comprehensive settlement. He said China stands for a peaceful solution on the basis of mutual respect, incremental approach and reciprocity, Xinhua said.
Xi also said China attaches great importance to its relations with Iran, and looks at them in a long-term perspective.
Rouhani was quoted as saying Iran wants the nuclear issue to be settled in accordance with international law and expressed appreciation of China's impartial stand and its efforts to encourage talks, Xinhua reported.
With Rouhani's election as Iran's new president, expectations are that his people want him to conclude a deal that will limit its nuclear program in exchange for easing some of the tough Western sanctions that have hit the Iranian economy hard.
The West says the Iranian nuclear program is designed to build nuclear weapons bur Tehran insists it is only for generating electricity and meant for other peace uses. The P5+1 participants, after their recent talks, may be closer to a limited agreement with the proviso that any agreement can be reversed if Iran doesn't meet its end of the deal.
U.S. President Barack Obama has said he doesn't think Iran will be able to take undue advantage of any eased sanctions since the tougher ones such as those on oil, banking and financial services would remain. Any easing would only allow Iran to access a small portion of some of the frozen assets.