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BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has urged Iran to show more flexibility on its nuclear programme but said there was still hope for a negotiated settlement to the standoff, state media reported on Saturday.
Wen made the comments in a Friday meeting with Iranian Vice-President Ali Saidlu on the sidelines of a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a regional security forum, in Tajikistan's capital, Dushanbe. Iran is an observer to the SCO.
"The Chinese premier said Iran's flexibility will help create conditions for an early resumption of the talks and the final settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue," the official Xinhua news agency reported.
"He said the Iranian nuclear issue is in a critical period."
Tehran ignored an Aug. 31 U.N. Security Council deadline to halt uranium enrichment, which Iran says is for civilian energy use but which Western powers fear will be used for making nuclear bombs.
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana has been negotiating with Iran on behalf of the world's major powers, but Washington is pushing for a move toward sanctions if there is no breakthrough soon.
China, which wields veto power on the Security Council, is wary of sanctions and has long urged a diplomatic solution.
During the meeting with Wen, Saidlu said Iran's nuclear activity was transparent and for peaceful purposes.
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