China confirmed on Thursday that it will talk with five major powers about possible new sanctions against Iran over its suspected nuclear program.
"China will participate in relevant consultations," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.
China will join the United States, Britain, Russia, France and Germany for talks later on Thursday in New York on a fourth U.N. sanctions resolution for Iran, which insists its uranium enrichment program is for peaceful purposes.
The United States and others have been pressuring China for months to support new sanctions, but China has said, the question of Iran's nuclear program can best be solved by negotiation. Russia has also said, there is room for negotiations with Iran. "We believe dialogue is the best solution to the issue," Jiang repeated on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told, a French parliamentary hearing that China would join the talks on Thursday. China agreed to discuss possible new sanctions during a phone conversation in late March with senior diplomats from the five other countries, but no date had been set for the start of the discussions.
Ambassadors from the six countries will discuss elements for a possible U.N. resolution circulated by the United States that reportedly targets Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard. It has major interests in nuclear proliferation activities.
The proposed new sanctions would also toughen existing measures against Iran's shipping, banking and insurance sectors and target additional companies and individuals connected to its nuclear program, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the U.S. proposal has not been released publicly.
Beijing has said, it opposes nuclear weapons for Iran but supports an Iranian civilian nuclear energy program. China traditionally opposes sanctions, but it went along with the first three sanctions resolutions against Iran.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley would not confirm Thursday's meeting, saying, there will be discussions in the coming days in several locations and "I'm not going to sit here and advertise every single meeting that takes place."
Once the six countries agree on a text, it must then be presented to the 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council for further negotiations. Several have already indicated their opposition to sanctions, including Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon.
There is no deadline for a new resolution, but some countries would like to vote on a new sanctions resolution before the start of a major conference at U.N. headquarters in early May to review the Nuclear Non proliferation Treaty, the cornerstone of global efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.