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China Seeks UN Role in Iraq, but Not in North Korea - 2003-04-08

China said it favors a dominant role for the United Nations in rebuilding post-war Iraq. But the government in Beijing sees no need for United Nations help in ending a global dispute over North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said the United Nations must lead the way in rebuilding Iraq after the war. Mr. Liu said U.N. leadership in reconstruction and reconciliation efforts for Iraq are the only way to bring "lasting peace and stability" to the often troubled Persian Gulf region.

China's comments come as President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair met in Northern Ireland to discuss the next step for Iraq. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan heads to Europe soon seeking agreement on the U.N.'s role.

Although China wants U.N. leadership in Iraq, it said the world body has no role in resolving a dispute over North Korea's suspected nuclear weapons program.

Mr. Liu said no one should take any action that would complicate the North Korean issue.

China does not want nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and is urging a peaceful solution to the nuclear crisis.

South Korea's foreign minister will visit Beijing Thursday, hoping to intensify diplomatic efforts to resolve the standoff. The issue arose last October when U.S. officials said North Korea admitted it was developing nuclear weapons in violation of international agreements.

Since then, Pyongyang has pulled out of a global nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and moved to restart a nuclear facility capable of producing ingredients for nuclear weapons.

The U.N. Security Council meets Wednesday to discuss the standoff. It is possible the council eventually will consider imposing sanctions against North Korea if a political solution is not found. Pyongyang has said it will treat sanctions as "a declaration of war" by the Security Council.