Hu Jintao confirms nuclear summit visit

Image by Charles Dharapak / AP

Having agreed to take part in negotiations on drafting UN sanctions against Iran, President Hu Jintao will visit Washington between 12-13 April for a summit on nuclear security.

Hu’s agreement to the talks is seen as a significant step for China during this time of relations strained by US arms sales to Taiwan, the Google-China fallout, Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama and tense trade imbalances. The move also came despite Iran sending an envoy to Beijing and denouncing negotiations as an “ineffective weapon”

China, with its economic ties to Iran, has been hesitant in joining the US, UK, France and Germany in putting together a set of sanctions against the country. While China depends on Iran for 11 per cent of its energy needs, the West has long claimed Tehran is intent on securing a nuclear weapons capability.

Speaking to CNN, US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said: “China has agreed to sit down and begin serious negotiations here in New York…as a first step toward getting the entire UN security council on board with a tough sanctions regime against Iran.”

On China’s side, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said: “I’d like to reiterate that the undue disruption which China-US relations endured not long ago is in the interest of neither country and is not what we would like to see.”

The visit is also scheduled to take place two days before the Obama administration faced a deadline set by Congress and the US Treasury to decide whether to label China a “currency manipulator.” However, the New York Times has said that the administration has decided not to report on 15th April, for fear of embarrassing President Hu and further harming delicate bilateral relations.

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