China opposes Iraq war, gives U.S. another hurdle New U.N. resolution for force in jeopardy
By Noelle Knox
BRUSSELS -- China on Tuesday joined voices opposing swift military action against Iraq, presenting another obstacle to U.S.-led plans to disarm the regime by force.
Chinese President Jiang Zemin called for a peaceful resolution to the standoff over Baghdad's alleged biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs. ''Warfare is good for no one,'' Jiang said.
China sides with France and Russia as permanent Security Council members publicly opposed to force. The three hold veto power over any United Nations-approved actions.
Jiang's remarks underscore the international divide over how to disarm Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's regime and come as NATO allies in Europe clash over the issue. The controversy threatens to undermine that 19-nation alliance.
China's Xinhua news agency said Jiang's comments followed a telephone conversation with French President Jacques Chirac, who is leading international opposition to war. France circulated a paper Tuesday within the Security Council calling for more intrusive weapons inspections.
Despite the resistance at the U.N., White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said President Bush still hopes for a resolution authorizing force. ''The president is going to continue to talk to leaders around the world, and he believes the call will be answered,'' Fleischer said.
The Bush administration has said that it doesn't need any additional authority to wage war and the United States would go forward with ''a coalition of the willing,'' if necessary. The White House has said dozens of nations would support a U.S.-led operation. Among likely partners: Britain, Australia, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. Friendly states in the region, such as Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey, would offer basing rights and logistical help.
At NATO, three countries balked for a second day at efforts to send defensive weaponry to Turkey, Iraq's northern neighbor, to protect it from Iraqi retaliation. France, Germany and Belgium resist the plan. They say it sends a message that war is inevitable. The 16 other members of the defense alliance support it. Also:
* Chief U.N. inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei are to report on Friday their latest findings on Iraqi compliance with inspections. The United States says that inspections have failed to ferret out banned Iraqi arms and only military action can find and destroy the weapons.
* Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, met with Blix in New York to discuss the inspections process.