US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged China to use its influence to raise pressure on Iran after new charges that the Tehran regime is pursuing nuclear weapons, officials said.
Clinton, meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Hawaii ahead of a weekend Asia-Pacific summit, talked "extensively" about Iran amid Western calls for further sanctions on the Islamic state, a senior US official said.
Clinton said "it was critical for China to communicate both publicly but also privately with Iran that they were on a course that was dangerous," the official, who attended the talks, said on customary condition of anonymity.
China, which along with Russia is one of Iran's main sources of diplomatic support, earlier Thursday rejected calls for new sanctions against Tehran and instead urged further dialogue on its nuclear drive.
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The International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN atomic watchdog, said Tuesday it had "serious concerns" based on "credible" information that Iran has "has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device."
Iran has consistently denied it is seeking nuclear weapons, insisting its atomic program is meant to produce electricity in the oil-rich nation.
US officials said that Clinton in her talks also sought China's cooperation in ending the nuclear program in its ally North Korea and in persuading Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to end a deadly crackdown on dissent.
The UN Security Council has slapped four rounds of sanctions on Iran, with China contributing to a unanimous vote the last time in June 2010. But China and Russia vetoed a resolution last month that threatened action against Syria.
Officials said Clinton also raised concerns about China's human rights record and macroeconomic policies, but that she stressed that the United States is not trying to contain the rising Asian power.