China rebuked Iran Monday for stopping oil sales to British and French companies at the weekend, calling for renewed efforts at dialogue over an escalating stand-off over Tehran's controversial nuclear programme.
China has repeatedly called for talks over Tehran's efforts to enrich its own uranium, which Western countries suspect is aimed at obtaining nuclear weapons. Iran has said the enrichment is for power generation.
"We have consistently upheld dialogue and negotiation as the way to resolve disputes between countries, and do not approve of exerting pressure or using confrontation to resolve issues," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said when asked about Iran's ban on oil sales to British and French firms.
China "hopes all sides can get back onto the correct path of dialogue as soon as possible," Hong told a daily news briefing.
China is one of the largest users of Iranian oil, buying around 20 per cent of total exports.
Hong said the use of force would be the wrong answer. "Attacking Iran militarily would only worsen the confrontation and lead to further upheaval in the region," he said.