Iraq is fast looming as a potential sticking point in Sino-US relations, US sources warn. The topic of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was raised when US President George W. Bush met President Jiang Zemin in Beijing, according to US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. Mr Bush told Mr Jiang that the US would not tolerate Saddam flouting Iraqi obligations to the United Nations to allow weapons inspections, but promised the US would consult China, Ms Rice said in Beijing. In a joint press conference with Mr Bush on Thursday, Mr Jiang emphasised peace in dealing with the Iraqi problem. White House sources said Mr Bush had sent a message to Mr Jiang that Iraq was now an extremely important issue to the US leader in the wake of his 'axis of evil' speech, and China's responses would be watched closely in the months ahead. Specifically, Mr Bush wanted full Chinese support in the United Nations Security Council for new attempts to get arms inspectors into Baghdad as well as for any extension of sanctions. The issue is also expected to surface in future talks on weapons proliferation between the two countries, given previous Chinese help to Iraq. Those links include, according to US intelligence reports last year, Chinese state firms' help in the laying of a fibre optic cable used in Iraq's radar defences. 'China is going to be told that any future dealings between Beijing and Iraq's military establishment will be viewed in the most serious light,' one senior Pentagon source said. 'China must now realise there is no more serious issue across Washington right now . . . it is one that can be expected to rumble on long after al-Qaeda is finally rounded up.' Derek Mitchell, a scholar at Washington's Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said China could expect extensive scrutiny of its actions towards Saddam in coming months. Iraq was named with Iran and North Korea as forming an axis of evil by Mr Bush last month.