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Iraq, Terror on Agenda at Next Week's US-China Summit - 2002-10-16

Senior Chinese officials say Iraq, terrorism and military ties are on the table at next week's summit in the United States.

Top Chinese officials say Iraq is certain to be discussed when President Jiang Zemin meets President Bush on October 25.

Washington wants Chinese help as it seeks U.N. authorization for strong action to remove Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. China is one of five nations with veto power in the U.N. Security Council.

The Foreign Ministry official in charge of relations with North America, He Ya Fei, says China is not planning to make any deals on Iraq at the summit.

"We are not linking the Iraq issue with other issues," said Mr. He. "And we are making our judgments on the issue purely on the merits of the issue it self."

China says it is crucial to let U.N. weapons experts go into Iraq to search for banned weapons before the Security Council takes further action.

Chinese officials say the summit may help repair relations between the American and Chinese militaries. Ties were curtailed after a U.S. Navy spy plane and a Chinese fighter jet collided last year, killing the Chinese pilot.

China says military-to-military ties help the two countries avoid accidents and misunderstandings. "An increased exchange of the two militaries will help restore confidence and trust and contribute to peace and stability in the Asian region," he explained.

Mr. Jiang also is expected to bring up the U.S. led war on terrorism. Beijing has supported the fight on terrorism that began after last year's terror attacks in the United States. That support has helped improve Sino-American relations. A senior Foreign Ministry official says Taiwan also will be on the agenda, but indicates little progress will be made on the issue.

China regards Taiwan a renegade province that must reunite with the mainland. But Washington sells weapons to the island and pledges to help defend the democratic government. Taiwan has been governed separately since China's Nationalist forces lost a civil war with the Communists in 1949 and fled to the island.

This is to be President Jiang's last U.S. summit meeting. He is expected to leave office later this year, after 13 years at the helm of China's government.