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China’s Xi says backs fair, balanced agreement on Iran

(Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping told Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday that China would push for a “fair and balanced” nuclear agreement, a day after talks resumed between Iran and the European Union.

Xi’s remarks, issued on the sidelines of the Asian-African summit in Indonesia, reiterate China’s stance that “mutually beneficial” talks should be used to resolve the decade-long dispute.

“China is willing to continue to maintain communication with all parties concerned, including Iran, to continue to play a constructive role in the negotiations and push for a fair, balanced, mutually beneficial and win-win comprehensive agreement as soon as possible,” Xi was quoted as telling Rouhani, according to a statement on the government website.

Iran and the other countries in the talks – China, France, Russia, Britain, the United States and Germany – reached a tentative deal on April 2 and now aim to finalize the details by a self-imposed end-June deadline.

The timing of sanctions relief is the main sticking point in the talks that resumed on Wednesday with a meeting between delegates from Iran and the European Union.

Xi also told Rouhani that China was ready to expand cooperation with Iran in the fields of energy, high-speed rail, highways, building materials, textiles, telecommunications, power and construction machinery among other sectors.

China and Iran have close economic, trade and energy ties. China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has opposed unilateral sanctions on Tehran such as those imposed by Washington and the European Union, and has called repeatedly for talks to resolve the dispute.

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