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China Opposes Using Force Against Iraq - 2002-08-28

A top Chinese official says Beijing has friendly ties with Iraq. China this week also indicated it opposes Washington's talk of using force to make Baghdad comply with U.N. resolutions.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri met with China's Vice Premier Qian Qichen, who reaffirmed the long-standing friendship between the two nations.

The Iraqi mission to shore up support from Iraq's small number of allies closely follows a visit to Beijing by a top U.S. diplomat this week.

Chinese state media quoted Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan as saying force, or the threat of force, will not solve problems in the Middle East. Mr. Tang also said "Iraq's sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity" must be preserved

Beijing has expressed concern about U.S. talk of military action to keep Baghdad from using weapons of mass destruction.

Iraq denies that it has nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, and says it has no intention of attacking anyone. But U.N. experts say Iraq has blocked efforts to eliminate its banned weapons programs.

The Chinese Foreign Minister urged Iraq to comply with U.N. resolutions calling for it to end its weapons programs.

Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Tang spoke with visiting Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage about Iraq and other matters.

U.S. officials say Iraq has lied about its weapons programs, which Mr. Armitage says insults the United Nations and its key members, such as China. "[It is] the specter of a nation basically thumbing its nose at [the] United Nations Security Council," he said.

Mr. Armitage says no decision has been made to attack Iraq and Washington will consult with China on the issue.