After months of negotiations, China has agreed to, er, negotiate.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner announced on Wednesday that China would join the United States, Britain, Russia, France, and Germany for talks on a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Iran.
“China will participate in a meeting tomorrow (Thursday) in New York,” said Kouchner, “Whether they will talk about the text, whether it’s just to respect formalities, I don’t know.”
The U.S. and others are hoping to speed up an agreement by sending P5+1 ambassadors directly to the United Nations. In the past, political directors from the six countries have agreed on an outline before negotiations moved to the U.N. to hammer out the final text.
But the buck doesn’t stop there.
Once the six countries agree on a text, it must then be presented to the 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council for further negotiations. Several, including Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon, have already indicated their opposition to sanctions.
Further, both China and Russia have been historically difficult when negotiating Iran sanctions. Just yesterday, President Medvedev reportedly told President Obama in Prague that there remain limits to his country’s support:
“Let me put it straightforward,” Medvedev said, “I have outlined our limits for such sanctions, our understanding of these sanctions.”
China’s opposition has been loud and ongoing, but appears to be waning in recent weeks, and while China does ultimately hold veto power on the Security Council, many analysts agree that its opposition will result in a watered down resolution, rather than none at all.