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Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Will Visit Iran Feb. 12

Assistant Chinese Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu will visit Iran from Feb. 12 to 13 to discuss the dispute over that country’s nuclear program, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said at a briefing in Beijing today.

The two sides will exchange views “over the Iranian nuclear issue,” Liu said. “We are ready to work together with parties concerned to seek an early resumption of talks,” he said.

Ma was invited by Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Liu said.

Tensions over Iran have risen in the last week, with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expressing concern about a potential Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities by mid-year.

Policy makers in Washington and Europe say economic pressure on Iran to abandon illicit aspects of its nuclear program is the best way to avoid a military confrontation. Iran says its program is for civilian energy and medical research.

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