UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- China's UN ambassador today made clear that Beijing was not ready to immediately support new sanctions against Iran, as called for by Western powers, saying the issue needed "more time and patience."
"This is not the right time or right moment for sanctions because the diplomatic efforts are still going on," Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui told reporters through an interpreter.
He said senior Foreign Ministry officials from China, Russia, the United States, Britain, France, and Germany would meet later this month to discuss Iran's nuclear program, which Western powers suspect is aimed at developing nuclear weapons, not to generate electricity as Tehran insists.
"The efforts aimed at diplomatic negotiations on the Iranian nuclear issue still need some time and patience," said Zhang, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council this month.
"Trying to bridge differences and finding a settlement through diplomatic efforts -- there's still space for such efforts," he said.
Iran has already been hit with three rounds of UN sanctions for refusing to suspend sensitive nuclear activities. The United States and its allies have said it was time for a fourth round of sanctions, but diplomats in New York say that Russia and China are resisting.
Beijing and Moscow, like Washington, Paris, and London, have veto powers on the 15-member Security Council and could block any new sanctions resolution against Tehran.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on January 4 that the United States believed new sanctions were necessary to pressure Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps to curb Tehran's nuclear programs without hurting ordinary people.