China to Skip U.N. Talks on Mideast Arms

From Reuters

China has informed the United States that it will not attend talks between the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council on arms control in the Middle East, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.

The move appeared to be the first concrete Chinese action after President Bush's decision two weeks ago to sell 150 advanced F-16 jet fighters to Taiwan, a move that strained relations between Washington and Beijing.

Beijing said Bush's decision two weeks ago to sell the F-16 jet fighters to Taiwan will make it difficult for China to cooperate in arms control and non-proliferation efforts.

Officials said that China is taking part in multilateral Middle East arms control talks that began Tuesday, and its decision refers to separate talks of the permanent Security Council five to restrict arms sales to the Middle East. No date has been set for that meeting.

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