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Last Updated: Monday, 26 March 2007, 19:18 GMT 20:18 UK
Russia and China appeal to Iran
Hu Jintao and Vladimir Putin
Both countries want a peaceful resolution to Iran's nuclear dispute
China and Russia are urging Iran to meet United Nations demands regarding its nuclear programme.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and China's Hu Jintao jointly said they wanted to find a "mutually acceptable solution" to Iran's "nuclear problem".

Both nations - UN Security Council permanent members - said disputes over Iran and North Korea's nuclear projects should be resolved peacefully.

Iran has refused to cease uranium enrichment, prompting UN sanctions.

Over the weekend Iran in response said it would reduce its co-operation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The statement by Russia and China comes as Mr Hu is on a three day visit to Russia to promote trade and energy links.

The joint statement by Russia and China comes as the US claims that Iran's nuclear programme is a means to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran rejects this, saying its nuclear programme is aimed at producing nuclear energy alone.

'Major importance'

In a joint statement, China and Russia said Iran's civilian nuclear programme should be "resolved exclusively in a peaceful way, through negotiations."

This emphasis on peaceful talks was echoed for North Korea.

"We have agreed that strategic co-operation between China and Russia has major importance for international affairs in creating a favourable atmosphere, in making relations more democratic and ensuring global peace," said Mr Hu.

Both nations pledged to work on "bilateral long term strategic co-operation" on energy, but no new deals have as yet been signed.

President Hu's three day visit includes a trip to the oil-rich region of Tatarstan.

They also promised to improve "co-operation with Central Asian countries in the political, trade and economic spheres".

Despite promises of greater cooperation, bilateral trade between the two nations represents a fraction of China's overall trade - at around $40bn annually - and tiny in the context of trade with the US.

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