China Opposes New Resolution

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Chinese leader Jiang Zemin told French President Jacques Chirac Thursday that an additional U.N. resolution on Iraq is not necessary, an official Chinese news agency reported.

"The Chinese side still supports using political means to resolve the Iraq issue. The door of peace should not be closed," the Xinhua News Agency quoted Jiang as telling Chirac.

The brief report did not say which leader initiated the call.

Xinhua quoted Jiang as telling Chirac that China agreed with a statement made Wednesday by France, Russia and Germany. The three countries said they want inspectors to be given more time to peacefully eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. They also warned they would block any U.N. authorization for military action.

The European statement did not use the word veto, but implied as much on the part of Russia and France, which both hold that power in the U.N. Security Council along with the United States, Britain and China.

Jiang's reported comments reiterated China's position stated earlier Thursday by Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan.

Tang said the current resolution being carried out by U.N. weapons inspectors, Resolution 1441, was working, but he wouldn't say if Beijing would use its veto power.

"The tasks spelled out by that resolution are not completed yet," Tang said at a news conference. "We are still working hard for a political solution and trying to avoid war. ... At this moment, it is completely unnecessary to put aside Resolution 1441 and introduce a new resolution."

He said weapons inspections by U.N. personnel in Iraq "should be strengthened."

"We have to continue the inspections until we get to the bottom of this," Tang said. "Every effort has to be made to avoid war because war does not serve the interests of any country in the world."

Asked whether China would veto a resolution, Tang demurred. "I think it is too early for you to raise this question," he said. "There is still a possibility for a political solution."