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Israeli foreign minister to leave for China

Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni leaves for China for talks with the government on sanctions against Iran over Tehran's controversial nuclear programme.

world Updated: Oct 27, 2007 21:01 IST

Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni leaves for China on Saturday for talks with the government on sanctions against Iran over Tehran's controversial nuclear programme, Israeli sources said.

Her meetings in Beijing on Monday and Tuesday will outline potential further UN sanctions which could be taken against Tehran if it fails to halt uranium enrichment, which the West fears is a cover for atomic weapons development.

Iran strongly denies claims it is attempting to develop nuclear arms.

Livni's visit follows trips by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Russia, France and Britain in a bid to agree a sanctions strategy. Olmert also visited Beijing in January for discussions on Iran's nuclear policy.

Earlier this week the United States announced that the six major powers involved in sanctions planning against Iran -- America, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany -- would meet in Europe in early November to discuss tightening sanctions.

Foreign ministers from the six decided in September to convene a meeting but agreed to wait until November, when new information about Iran's nuclear programme should become available.

Washington announced unilateral sanctions against three banks and several units of the Iranian military Thursday, but Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili denied they would effect nuclear policy.

Israel has previously described Iran as its principal strategic threat, and earlier this month US President George W Bush warned of a possible World War III if Tehran acquired nuclear weapons.