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OLYMPICS/ Spotlight

Wen defends China's role in Darfur
Updated: 2008-02-20 09:15


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao spoke with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the phone yesterday to discuss bilateral relations, the issue of Sudan's Darfur region and other international issues.

Both leaders hailed the good momentum in the growth of China-Britain relations and pledged to work together for stronger bilateral ties by deepening cooperation in economy, trade, environmental protection, energy conservation, culture and the Olympic Games.

Regarding Darfur, Wen said China hopes for a quick realization of peace, stability and development for the Sudanese region and has worked constructively to this end.

China has put forward and pushed for a tripartite mechanism involving the Sudanese government, the African Union and the United Nations and a dual-track strategy in resolving the issue, Wen said.

China was the first nation outside Africa to send peacekeepers to Darfur and the first and biggest development aid provider to the region, the Chinese premier said.

China would again send its special envoy for Darfur, Liu Guijin, to Sudan soon, he said.

Wen also expressed China's readiness to continue working with Britain for the resolution of the Darfur issue. "We're willing with Britain to continue making ceaseless efforts to appropriately resolve the Darfur issue," he said.

Brown, for his part, praised China's efforts in resolving the issue and voiced Britain's opposition to boycotting the Olympic Games in Beijing. He expected the Games in Beijing to become the most successful sports meet of the century.

Last week, Hollywood director Steven Spielberg quit as an artistic adviser to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, claiming that China had failed to use enough of its sway with Khartoum to press for peace in Darfur.

Envoy to visit London

Envoy Liu, who has been closely involved in raising China's profile in addressing the conflict in Darfur, will go to Britain on Thursday en route to Sudan on Sunday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular news conference.

Spokesman Liu said patient negotiation was the way to defuse the conflict.

"We believe that with the active efforts of the international community, including China, the Darfur issue has achieved positive progress," the spokesman said.

However, not enough was being done to encourage rebel groups in Darfur to join peace talks with Khartoum, Liu said, urging other countries to use their sway with the rebels to encourage talks.

Liu noted under the current circumstances, the UN, the AU and the Sudanese government should fully play their own roles and be patient about resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation. "Pressure should not be used, to avoid making the situation even more complicated," he added.

Liu said the political process has lagged behind peacekeeping deployment in the Darfur region.

He called on the international community to push forward the political process and continue to persuade the opposing sides in this region to join the political process and reach a peace agreement with Sudan.

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