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China Still Vague on Support for New UN Draft Resolution on Iraq - 2002-11-07

China says a new U.S. draft resolution on disarming Iraq seems to address concerns of critics, but Beijing has not said if it would support the measure in its present form. The U.N. Security Council has been debating this latest resolution and could vote on it Friday.

China's Foreign Ministry struck a more positive note about a new U.S. proposal on disarming Iraq of its suspected nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

China is one of five Security Council members with the power to veto resolutions and the United States is hoping Beijing will support this one, either by voting for it, or by abstaining.

Russia and France had objected to the first U.S. resolution, which would in effect, authorize the automatic use of force against Iraq if U.N. weapons inspectors were not allowed to resume their work. China did not take a position then and Thursday continued to remain vague as to whether it would support the current resolution.

The new draft says Iraq has one last chance to comply or will face serious consequences if it fails to cooperate with weapons inspectors.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan says the new resolution appears to address the initial objections.

He says the draft takes into account the concerns of relevant countries. He said China would take a constructive attitude, seeking cooperation between various parties in hopes of speeding up negotiations that will put U.N. weapons inspectors back in Iraq soon.

Russia and France have welcomed the changes, but said there are still ambiguities in the language that need to be addressed.

The U.N. Security Council began debating the draft Wednesday and a vote could come as early as Friday.