On a visit to the Chinese capital, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on Beijing to use its influence to steer Iran away from its nuclear weapon ambitions. Merkel is at the start of a three-day trip to China.
Hours after her arrival in Beijing on Thursday morning at the start of a three-day visit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed China's role regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions in a speech to a Chinese think tank.
"The question is more how China can use its influence to make Iran understand that the world should not have another nuclear power," she told the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
Merkel arrived in Beijing on Thursday morning with an entourage of top business leaders and members of parliament from all the major German political parties.
Economy tops the list
Bilateral economic ties are likely to dominate the agenda of Merkel's trip. Before addressing the CASS, her first appointment was a lunch meeting where she spoke with representatives from the financial sector.
Merkel called for better regulation of financial instruments like hedge funds, and also said credit ratings agencies had become too influential and were worsening the eurozone's debt-related problems.
One of Merkel's goals is to convince the Chinese government to invest some of its currency reserves in eurozone sovereign bonds. She praised recent EU efforts to deal with its debt difficulties, saying the single European currency had "made Europe stronger."
"Europe is growing closer together in the crisis," said Merkel. "Every country has to do its homework, but we're staying united, because a collective currency should be defended collectively."
This seemed to be a response to Chinese financial experts who had said in the run-up to Merkel's visit that it was unlikely the government would invest heavily in the troubled eurozone.
"The European Union has a unified currency, but no unified financial system ensuring that each country keeps its promises to reduce its debt," economist Shen Jiru said in an interview with the Global Times newspaper. "Pumping more money in won't solve the problem."
Merkel also said in her speech that China could help solve Europe's debt problems, without elaborating on how.
The chancellor was also set to meet young Chinese people who had spent time studying in Germany.
She will then be received with full military honors by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday afternoon.
Syrian resolution 'necessary'
On an international level, Merkel and Wen are expected to discuss recently-imposed EU sanctions - primarily targeting the oil industry - against Iran, and the ongoing unrest in Syria.
Germany has been one of the countries leading the push for a UN Security Council resolution condemning violence against Syrians by President Bashar al-Assad's security forces.
Merkel said in Beijing that she "thought it important that we try to find a common tongue" on the issue. "It is necessary that the UN Security Council passes a collective resolution," she concluded.
China has so far refused to impose sanctions against Iran, saying they would achieve nothing, while also arguing against any Security Council resolution against the Syrian regime that might lead to forced regime change or military intervention.
mz/msh/cmk (AP, AFP, dapd, dpa)