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China has a veto on the UN security council and its support would be vital to passing a resolution against Iran. Tehran insists its nuclear programme is only for peaceful power generation.
China traditionally opposes sanctions as it depends on Iran for 11% of its energy needs. But there is speculation that Beijing is willing to drop its opposition in return for US officials not citing China for undervaluing its currency in an annual report due on 15 April, days after Hu's visit.
US officials say a Chinese representative made a commitment in a phone call on Wednesday to discuss the specifics of a potential security council resolution.