China said Wednesday it opposed “unilateral” sanctions against Iran, after U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law new measures targeting the Islamic republic's central bank, as Turkey’s foreign minister was set to visit Iran later in the day for talks on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Washington’s move came after the United States, Britain and Canada said in November they were slapping additional sanctions on Iran, citing evidence that Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons.
Tehran denies the allegations, saying its nuclear program is exclusively for medical and power generation purposes, and China has repeatedly said sanctions will not resolve the issue.
“China opposes placing one's domestic law above international law and imposing unilateral sanctions against other countries,” said foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei in response to a question about U.S. sanctions on Iran.
China and Iran have become major economic partners in recent years, partly due to the withdrawal of Western companies in line with sanctions against Tehran.
China and Russia -- key allies of Iran -- have often sought to take a softer stance on the Islamic republic than their fellow members of the U.N. Security Council.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s foreign minister will visit Iran later Wednesday for talks on Tehran’s disputed nuclear program, his ministry announced amid rising regional tensions.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will hold two-day consultations with his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi about Iran’s nuclear program as well as developments in Iraq and Syria, the foreign ministry in a statement.
The visit comes amid rising tensions, with Iran holding naval war games and warning arch-foe the United States to keep an aircraft carrier out of the Gulf and Washington dismissing the warning.
Nuclear negotiations between Iran and major Western powers were suspended for a year after the latest round of talks took place in Istanbul in January 2011.