During separate talks Friday with leaders of two opposition parties, top Chinese legislator Li Peng slammed the “axis of evil” speech made in January by U.S. President George W. Bush, according to lawmakers.

Li, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, held talks at the state guesthouse in Tokyo with Social Democratic Party leader Takako Doi and Kazuo Shii, chairman of the Japanese Communist Party.

During a discussion with Shii, Li reportedly stated that the hegemony being pursued by the United States constitutes a severe global threat and that the current conflict in the Middle East can be traced back to U.S. support for the Israeli administration of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

According to the lawmakers, Shii voiced concern that Bush’s branding of North Korea, Iraq and Iran as an “axis of evil” was an invitation to lawlessness.

Doi reportedly told Li that Israel should not be allowed to drive Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat into exile, as Sharon has proposed.

Regarding the situation on the Korean Peninsula, Li said there will be no peace dialogue between North Korea and South Korea if the U.S. continues to brand Pyongyang as evil, according to the lawmakers.

Li arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday for an eight-day visit designed to reinforce bilateral ties.

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