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Thursday, March 19, 2009, 09:30 am PT (12:30 pm ET)

China Mobile says it's still in iPhone talks

Despite prior negotiations repeatedly breaking down, the world's largest mobile phone network operator says it's still negotiating with Apple to bring the iPhone to China.

"We have been discussing with Apple, but until now no agreement has been reached," said chief executive Wang Jianzhou in Hong Kong. He was speaking after China Mobile announced its 2008 financial results.

According to the Agence France Presse, Wang added that he would welcome outsiders, such as Apple, as long as there's a profitable relationship.

"The door of China Mobile's network is always open," he said.

Nonetheless, the relationship between the two firms has been rocky at best. Revenue sharing was commonly regarded as a major sticking point early on in negotiations. Apple offered to sell the company each iPhone for $600 as long as iPhone service bundles would be subsidized, but the carrier reportedly balked at the prospect of sharing income with a foreign company.

Most recently, talks were said to have broken down over China Mobile's insistence on co-managing the App Store.

As those negotiations floundered, rival operator China Unicom swooped in, but it to date also has failed to reach an agreement with Apple, despite some reports claiming the deal had already been finished.

Apple is still believed bent on coming to an understanding, given chief executive Steve Jobs' comments that he would have liked to see the device introduced in China last year. Possibly putting some pressure on the two sides is the continuing gray market for unlocked versions of the device as well as Apple's vested interest in legal sales for the single largest cellphone market on Earth.