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China Appeals for Political Solution to Iraq Crisis - 2003-03-13

China is appealing for a political solution to the Iraq crisis, but gave a non-committal reaction to a new six-point British plan for Iraq to avoid war.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said Beijing is aware of the new plan from London but gave no direct reaction to it.

Mr. Kong says Iraq should comply with existing United Nations resolutions demanding that it disarm and allow U.N. weapons experts to verify that it has rid itself of banned weapons of mass destruction.

And he says the international community should give U.N. weapons inspectors the time they need to finish their work.

The new British plan calls on Baghdad to meet several conditions to avoid a military attack to force it to disarm. The plan includes a demand that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein declare on television that he will give up hidden weapons of mass destruction.

Britain put its plan forward Wednesday, hoping to break a deadlock in the U.N. Security Council over a draft resolution that would open the way to a war forcing Iraq to disarm.

Britain and the United States have been campaigning for support for a March 17 ultimatum for Iraq to disarm.

France, which has veto power in the Security Council, has already rejected the new British proposal. Russia and China, which also have vetoes, oppose military action against Iraq at this time.