China has insisted it strongly opposes external pressure on fellow communist North Korea to resolve a standoff over inspections of North Korea's nuclear facilities, U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said Monday.

Boutros-Ghali also downplayed his role in defusing the crisis over inspections of North Korea's nuclear facilities, saying he had no intention to mediate and wanted a solution to be be found outside the United Nations."I have asked nothing of the Chinese government," Boutros-Ghali said when asked if he sought Chinese support in the United Nations Security Council for economic sanctions against North Korea.

As one of five permanent members of the Security Council, China has the power to veto sanctions.

In two days of meetings, Chinese Premier Li Peng and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen told Boutros-Ghali they prefer continued dialogue with Pyongyang to resolve the dispute over nuclear facility inspections.

"The government of China has made it clear they do not believe that pressure will help to solve the problem, and they believe that more negotiation, more dialogue and more consultation is the way to find the solution to the problem," he said in a Beijing news conference.

"Personally, may I add that we need patience to solve the problems in the short term, which is the peaceful resolution of the nuclear crisis, and in the long term, which is to find a way to reinforce the contact between North and South Korea," he said.

The U.N. chief added that hopes of his mediating a breakthrough in the nuclear dispute or in North-South Korean relations were misplaced.

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