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Merkel Seeks Chinese Support On Iran Nuclear Position

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (file photo)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (file photo)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged China to persuade Iran to be more "open and transparent" about its nuclear program.

Merkel made the remarks Thursday in Beijing, where she met Chinese President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiaba to discuss new sanctions over Iran's nuclear program.

"I will advocate that if Europe imposes sanctions [on Iran], China should still use its influence to tell Iran that we do not need and cannot allow another power to have nuclear weapons," Merkel said.

Iran insists its nuclear program is for civilian purposes.

The United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency in November said there appeared to be military aspects to the Iranian program.

China is reluctant to back calls from mainly Western states for new restrictions on Iran, including a freeze on buying Iranian oil. China is one of the biggest purchasers of Iranian oil.

During her three-day visit to China, Merkel was also expected to discuss Syria and the eurozone crisis.

The German chancellor is accompanied by a large business delegation.

Compiled from agency reports