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Tony Blair to lobby China support against Iran during Hu state visit to Britain

London, Nov. 6, IRNA-Prime Minister Tony Blair is aiming to modify China's balanced position towards Iran's nuclear program during President Hu Jintao' state visit to Britain this week.

The Chinese leader will stay at Buckingham Palace when he arrives in London Tuesday for his three-day visit as guest of the British monarch.

According to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Blair will discuss China's decision to abstain from a joint EU-US resolution, seeking to refer Iran's nuclear case to the UN Security Council at the last IAEA board meeting in Vienna in September.

Straw told MPs last Tuesday that he was "sure" the British premier intends to raise the matter with Hu during his visit as he himself had done so repeatedly with his Chinese counterpart Li Zhaoxing.

The Foreign Secretary was being challenged on the importance of China being a "major player" in any potential Security Council action but dismissed suggestions that the country's huge Dlrs 100 billion oil deal with Iran would influence its vote.

"The Government of China do have commercial relations with Iran, as do many other countries. A close relationship between India and Iran, however, did not stop India voting with the E3/US consensus on the board of governors declaring Iran non-compliant," Straw said.

He commended the approach taken by China, saying that "in all the discussions that I have had with them they have sometimes taken a different view, but at every stage they have acted responsibly." The Chinese president is visiting at the start of a European tour, during which he is also stopping over in Spain and Germany, where he will meet with incoming chancellor Angela Merkel.

Reports suggest that the agenda is likely to be dominated by the EU's 16-year old arms embargo against China at a time when the US has been forcefully campaigning against moves for the sanctions to be lifted.

The last state visit to London by China's former president Jiang Zemin in 1999 was overtaken by a series of human rights protests, when Blair's government was criticized by many MPs for suppressing.

... Payvand News - 11/6/05 ... --

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