After mixed reports surrounding Apple and China mobile talks, the mobile carrier confirmed on Monday that it has not yet entered into negotiations to take the iPhone to China, saying such talks may be held closer to the release of a 3G version of the touch-screen handset later this year.

'We have not yet officially begun talks with Apple over the iPhone problem, said Wang Jianzhou, China Mobile Chief Executive.

Last month, China Mobile had a subscriber base in excess of 375 million, more than the population of the United States.

Reports also indicated that the Chinese carrier provides service to some 400,000 first-generation iPhones that have been unlocked and smuggled into China for the subscribers unwilling to wait on official availability.