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China Worried About Possible US Attack on Iraq - 2002-09-05

China says it is worried about growing signs that the United States may attack Iraq. This comes as Washington attempts to explain to China and other countries its belief that Baghdad's weapons of mass destruction pose a threat to the world.

China continues to oppose the use of force against Iraq, and calls instead for a political solution through the United Nations. With its veto power as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, China could block any U.N. resolution approving U.S.-led military action against Iraq.

At a news conference in Beijing Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kong Quan said Washington had contacted Beijing to discuss the issue. Mr. Kong declined to give any details, saying only that China is concerned about an escalation of tension caused by Washington's talk of war.

Mr. Kong called on Iraq to allow United Nations weapons inspectors into Baghdad, but he also said Iraq's territorial integrity and sovereignty should be respected. The spokesman made no reference to President Bush's plan to address the United Nations next week to lay out his arguments against Baghdad.

Despite Beijing's disagreement with Washington, Mr. Kong did praise the overall state of Sino-American relations, saying the leaders of both countries are in close consultation about a variety of global issues.

President Bush has been criticized in recent weeks for not explaining to allies or the American public why military action should be taken against Iraq.

Wednesday, Mr. Bush said he would ask Congress to support a possible strike against Baghdad. He also said that he would consult with the leaders of China, Russia and France - all of whom have publicly expressed opposition to an invasion of Iraq.

In his address to the United Nations September 12, Mr. Bush is expected to argue that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction pose a threat to the entire world.