China confirms nuclear invitation by Iran

BEIJING, Jan 4, 2011 (AFP) - China confirmed on Tuesday it was among the world powers that Tehran had invited to visit its nuclear facilities ahead of talks in Istanbul over the Islamic republic's atomic programme.

Iran announced earlier Tuesday that it had invited representatives of certain countries to tour its facilities, including some representatives of the six world powers engaged in talks with Tehran on the nuclear issue.

"The representatives of some European Union countries, NAM (Non-Aligned Movement), and some representatives of the five-plus-one (six world powers) have been invited to visit our nuclear sites," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei confirmed to reporters during a briefing that China, one of the five-plus-one nations, was among the invitees.

"China has received the invitation from the Iran side and will maintain communication with Iran on this," he said, giving no further details.

Iran has not yet specified whether arch-foe the United States, also involved in the multilateral negotiations, is among those invited.

Iran and the six powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- are to meet later this month in Istanbul for another round of talks.

The previous round of talks, which took place after a hiatus of 14 months, was held in Geneva on December 6 and 7.

The talks are aimed at ascertaining whether Iran's nuclear drive masks a weapons programme as some world powers suspect. The Islamic republic says its atomic drive is purely for peaceful goals.

Other news