President Hu Jintao called on his Iranian counterpart yesterday to engage in serious dialogue with other world powers and show flexibility in resolving disputes triggered by Tehran's nuclear programme.
Hu made the remarks to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a bilateral meeting in Beijing.
In Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) held talks with Iran but failed to reach a deal on allowing greater access for inspectors to its nuclear programme.
'There has been no progress,' the International Atomic Energy Agency's chief inspector Herman Nackaerts said after a day of talks with Iran's envoy to the IAEA, adding that this was disappointing.
Iran is expected to head into another round of nuclear talks in Moscow on June 18 with the so-called P5+1 group - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - after a previous round in Baghdad last month.
'New progress has been made during the talks in Baghdad,' Hu said at the meeting, adding that Iran should weigh up the situation.
On Thursday, Ahmadinejad told Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Beijing that Iran had no intention of building nuclear weapons, but fear would not deter it if it decided to make them - suggesting a toughening of Iran's position.
'China hopes the Iranian side can take a flexible and pragmatic approach, have serious talks with all six related nations, and enhance dialogue and co-operation with the IAEA so as to ensure the tensions can be eased through negotiations,' Hu said yesterday.
He said China would continue to play a constructive role in settling the issue through peaceful means.
Ahmadinejad told Hu that Iran and China had common stances on most regional and international issues, a statement on the Iranian president's website said. 'Unfortunately, there are some countries which impose their own intentions on others to achieve their own interests,' he was quoted as saying.
Tehran has said it is developing civilian nuclear power and making medical isotopes, but Western countries and Israel suspect it is developing a bomb.
Ahmadinejad, in Beijing for the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation summit, was hoping to gain China's support to counterbalance US pressure. Beijing had earlier said it did not support any country in the Middle East acquiring nuclear weapons, but that the sovereignty of Iran should be respected.
The Foreign Ministry quoted Ahmadinejad as saying that Tehran hoped to ease tensions over the dispute through negotiations, and would maintain contacts with the parties involved.
China and Russia said on Tuesday that they opposed unilateral sanctions against Tehran. Both have been criticised for maintaining warm ties with Iran, which supplies oil to China.
Ahmadinejad was originally scheduled to talk to reporters after his meeting with Hu, but the press conference was cancelled because of a 'busy schedule and unpredicted programme', the Iranian embassy in Beijing announced on Thursday.
The number of years it would take Iran to make a bomb and mount it on a missile, according to US and Israeli estimates