China says it agrees with a recent French, Russian and German declaration opposing a U.N. resolution paving the way for war against Iraq. French President Jacques Chirac and Chinese leader Jiang Zemin spoke by telephone Thursday.
A spokeswoman for the Elysée presidential palace in Paris confirmed that President Chirac and Mr. Jiang had discussed Iraq during a recent telephone conversation.
Asked by VOA if the conversation included Chinese endorsement of a joint declaration by German, French and Russian foreign ministers on Iraq, spokeswoman Catherine Colonna simply pointed to remarks by Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan.
During a Thursday press conference in Beijing, Mr. Tang said China opposed a new United Nations resolution authorizing military action against Baghdad. That position was adopted in a joint communiqué issued in Paris Wednesday, by the three European foreign ministers.
The common positions suggest that France, China and Russia, all permanent members of the U.N. security Council, might veto such a new U.N. resolution. But none of the three countries has formally declared it will do so. Germany, as a non-permanent Security Council member, has no such veto power.
Mr. Tang said there was no reason to consider a new U.N. resolution against Iraq, so long as diplomacy appeared to be working. He said it was premature to consider whether a possible Chinese veto might undermine U.S.-Chinese relations.
In France, the question of a veto has divided the political establishment. Leaders of Mr. Chirac's center-right Union for the Presidential Majority Party have urged against such a move, for fear of further eroding ties with Washington. But leftist politicians are urging Paris to veto a war resolution, if it is introduced at the United Nations.