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UN Secretary-General Discusses Iraq, AIDS with China's Leaders - 2002-10-14

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is giving few details of his talks about Iraq with China's leaders. The secretary-general also warned China to act quickly to avoid an explosive AIDS epidemic.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan made it clear Iraq was on the agenda of his meeting with China's President Jiang Zemin. But he says they did not discuss particular U.N. resolutions regarding Baghdad.

He said he is optimistic the United Nations will be able to reduce the tensions between Iraq and the United States, which threaten to boil into war.

Washington accuses Baghdad of harboring banned weapons of mass destruction. Iraq promised to give up those weapons as part of the agreement that ended the Gulf War more than a decade ago. Iraq denies that it has the weapons.

Many countries, including China, argue against taking military action to remove Iraq's alleged weapons without Security Council approval. China is one of only five nations that can veto actions by the U.N. Security Council.

Mr. Annan is covering several issues during his visit to China, among them terrorism. "We meet at a time when a lot is happening in the world, not just on the political front, but also on the economic front and on the health front. And I will be able to review some of these issues," he said. Mr. Annan said there must be greater international cooperation to defeat terrorists responsible for acts such as the bomb blast that killed more than 180 people Saturday in Bali.

He also sternly warned China's leadership and its public the country has no time to lose in fighting a growing AIDS epidemic. He said China faces a "decisive moment" in the containing the spread of the disease.

The secretary-general's visit to China is his first stop on a tour of seven Asian nations.