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China deals U.S. blow over Iraq

Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan (r) told visiting Iraqi counterpart Naji Sabri (l) on Tuesday that using force or threats of force could not solve the Iraqi problem
Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan (r) told visiting Iraqi counterpart Naji Sabri (l) on Tuesday that using force or threats of force could not solve the Iraqi problem  


By Willy Wo-Lap Lam
CNN Senior China Analyst

(CNN) -- In a further blow to Washington's effort to get global support for a possible war on Iraq, Beijing has indicated it is against the use of force to resolve Baghdad's differences with the West.

Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan told visiting Iraqi counterpart Naji Sabri on Tuesday that using force or threats of force could not solve the Iraqi problem and "would only cause regional tension and instability."

The official China News Service on Wednesday quoted Tang as saying questions about Iraq should only be resolved within United Nations mechanisms, and "only political and diplomatic methods should be used."

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Tang added Beijing was concerned about the suffering of the Iraqi people who had lived under conditions of Western embargoes for a long time.

However, Tang also asked Sabri to cooperate with UN-arranged inspections of weapons development programs in Iraq.

Diplomatic analysts in Beijing said having acquiesced in Washington's anti-terrorist campaign last year, the Chinese leadership was anxious to reassure the Muslim and Arab world of its friendship and support.

U.S. negotiations

At the same time, Beijing is playing the Arab or Iraq card in its negotiations with the U.S.

Given Beijing's good ties with the Arab world and its permanent membership in the UN Security Council, Washington requires Chinese cooperation in a possible war against Iraq.

The question of fighting terrorism, including Iraq, will figure prominently in the summit to take place between Presidents Jiang Zemin and George W. Bush in Texas in late October.

The diplomatic analysts said Jiang might be more accommodating on the Iraq front if Washington agreed to play ball on the Taiwan issue.

Earlier this week, the U.S. made a concession to China when it labeled the Uighur separatists in Xinjiang as a terrorist organization.

The Chinese are lobbying very hard for the U.S. to stop selling sophisticated weapons to Taiwan, whose leadership has been vocal in seeking quasi-statehood for the island.



 
 
 
 


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