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Chinese President Hu to attend nuclear summit

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China reluctant to impose Iran sanctions
  • Iran's top nuclear official heads to China
  • Visit comes after Beijing says willing to discuss sanctions against Iran
  • Chinese President Hu to attend April's nuclear summit in Washington
  • Iran's nuclear energy program fuels concern for U.S., other nations

(CNN) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao will travel to Washington next month for a summit on nuclear issues, China's foreign ministry said Thursday

The annoucement comes as the United States and France are pushing for sanctions against Iran's nuclear energy program, and as Iran's top nuclear official was headed to China to discuss his country's nuclear program.

Saeed Jalili was invited to Beijing by Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, Iran's state-run Press TV reported.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Wednesday that China agreed to negotiate possible sanctions against Iran.

"China has agreed to sit down and begin serious negotiations in New York with other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council," Rice said.

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  • Iran
  • Nuclear Proliferation
  • China
  • Susan Rice

But Chinese officials were not as bold in their statements Thursday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang stated that he hoped the issue could be solved "through diplomatic negotiations."

"We oppose Iran's possession of nuclear weapons, and at the same time, we also believe that as a sovereign state, it has the right to peacefully use nuclear technology," the spokesman added.

The United States and its allies believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, while the Iranian government says it only wants a peaceful nuclear energy capability. Rice said there was little doubt that Iran wanted a nuclear weapons capability.

"All of the evidence indicates the program is not as they state, for peaceful purposes only, that there is a military element to it," Rice said.

U.S. President Obama will host the Nuclear Security Summit on April 12-13 and has invited over 40 nations to participate, according to the State Department.

CNN's Helena Hong and John Vause contributed to this report.