China Tuesday expressed its support for the removal of UN sanctions against Iraq and an end to the enforcement of a no-fly zone over the Arab nation by Britain and the United States.
"Sanctions against Iraq have been in place for more than 10 years and have brought great suffering to the Iraqi people .. we do not want to see these questions drag on indefinitely," foreign ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said at a routine briefing.
She was commenting on the ongoing visit of Iraqi Vice Premier Tareq Aziz, who was expected to meet later with Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
In talks with Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen on Monday, Qian said China would support Iraq's efforts to end the sanctions and work for an "early, just and rational" resolution to the Iraq issue, the People's Daily said.
"To control another country's policies on the international stage will not win the hearts of the people. China supports Iraq's efforts to break the sanctions," Qian said.
Aziz also met on Monday Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan who soundly condemned the American and British-patrolled no-fly zone over Iraq and expressed sympathy with Iraq after 10-years of UN sanctions.
"China resolutely condemns the air attacks that have caused great civilian casualties and property losses and intensified the situation," China Central Television quoted Tang as telling visiting Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz.
"The establishment of the no-fly zone by some Western countries violates the UN charter and norms of international relations and ignores and tramples on the sovereignty of Iraq," he said.
US warplanes bombed northern Iraq last week after coming under fire during routine patrols over the no-fly zone, in the latest of a series of bombings which Iraq claims have killed more than 300 people since December 1998.
Iraq does not recognize the zones, which are not authorized by any specific UN resolution.
Ministry spokeswoman Zhang also indicated that China does not recognize the no-fly zone.
"The resolutions of the UN security council do not ban any single flights to Iraq..., it is our view that there has never been such a question as a ban on flights," Zhang said.
During the talks, Aziz also expressed hopes that China would continue to play "a positive and important role" towards a just and rational resolution of the Iraqi question, Xinhua said -- BEIJING (AFP)
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