Saturday, Sep 14, 2002
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By P. S. Suryanarayana
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said its offer was designed to seek a "political solution'' entirely "within the framework of the United Nations''.
China, the only full-fledged Asian country with the veto power as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has reaffirmed the importance of a non-military solution and a definitive U.N. initiative.
The options open to China within the Security Council include an abstention from voting on any perceived unilateralist move by the U.S.
With China having exercised the right of abstention during the voting on some U.N. resolutions on Iraq in the overall context of the 1991 Gulf War, Beijing's latest line is seen in the Asia Pacific diplomatic cir0cles as a sign of its proactive rather than passive intention.
The formulation about the "framework of the United Nations'' has been amplified by the Chinese Foreign Minister, Tang Jiaxuan, at the U.N. headquarters where he said that the relevant Security Council resolutions on Iraq should be "abided by in an earnest manner'' by the countries concerned.
Japan, the ailing economic superpower, is at present deeply concerned with the prospects of its own moves for an eventual détente with North Korea. Without being dismissive of Mr. Bush's diplomacy of unearthing Iraq's smoking gun of mass-destructive potential, the Japanese Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, held talks with Mr. Bush in New York by turning the spotlight as much as possible on North Korea, which figures alongside Iraq in a U.S.-perceived "axis of evil''. For Tokyo, the Iraq dilemma has much to do with reconciling the Japanese "anti-war'' constitution with Mr. Koizumi's political compulsions of being on the right side of the U.S., according to regional observers.
The Iraq-related official word in Seoul today was that the U.S. had already requested South Korea for assistance in a possible military strike against Saddam Hussein, The request was made even as the U.S. notified South Korea about the details of Mr. Bush's speech at the U.N. even before he actually spoke.
While Indonesia, the largest Muslim-majority state, has not made a definitive statement, a highly vocal section of Islamic radicals there today stepped up pressure on the Government in Jakarta to distance itself from America's current thinking on Iraq.
The Malaysian Foreign Minister, Hamid Albar, spoke of his country's sense of `relief' that the U.S. had, at least for the time being, decided to give the U.N. a chance to come up with a problem-solving resolution on Iraq before Washington itself might make a final move. This sense of some immediate relief was noticeable in other capitals of South East Asia as well.
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