China's agreement to take part in UN talks on imposing fresh sanctions on Iran over its suspect nuclear program was a "good surprise," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Thursday. In an interview with The New York Times, Kouchner said: "The good surprise is that they accept to talk." He was reacting after the US envoy to the United Nations, Susan Rice, told CNN television: "China has agreed to sit down and begin serious negotiations here in New York." "Talking about the substance is a new step forward," said Kouchner. "There is no date, there is nothing precise, but we are speeding up." China and France are among the P5+1 group -- permanent council members along with Britain, Russia and the United States, plus Germany -- who have been leading the negotiations with Tehran.