China confirmed Tuesday that it will send engineers to support UN
peacekeepers trying to quell the violence in Sudan's troubled Darfur region.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said China was sending the team
"at the request of the UN and relevant parties" but she could not immediately
provide details about how many would be sent or when.
She said they would provide support to UN peacekeeping missions working
with peacekeepers from the African Union.
The US State Department came out in favor of the plan before Beijing
publicly announced it.
"We see this as a positive development, and we appreciate China's
contribution in the international effort to stop the violence in Darfur," US
State Department officer Gonzalo Gallegos said.
He said the engineers will help prepare for the arrival of a hybrid force of
3,000 UN and African Union peacekeepers in Darfur. Subsequently, upward of
17,000 additional troops are due to be stationed there in keeping with a UN
plan to protect and provide relief for 2.5 million Darfurians confined to camps
in the devastated region.
The Sudanese government has yet to agree to the larger force.
"We look to China to use its significant leverage in
Khartoum to make this happen as soon as possible," Gallegos said.
The United States has warned of the possibility of additional sanctions
against Sudan if President Omar al-Bashir's government continues to balk at
acceptance of the force.