China urges peacekeepers in Darfur

Updated: 2007-06-16 08:49

International community should work together to support a "fast and smooth" implementation of the newly-announced agreement on sending hybrid peacekeeping troop to Sudan's Darfur region, China's special representative for Darfur Liu Guijin said on Friday.

Meanwhile, political process with all parties involved should continue in order to help restore a lasting peace in that troubled area, he said after discussions with South African Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad and other foreign ministry officials in the South African capital on Friday.

A displaced Sudanese woman walks with her donkey near El-Fasher, capital of the north Darfur region, March 25, 2007. [Reuters/file]
South Africa is part of Liu's trip to Africa for consultations after the Sudanese government on Tuesday accepted the deployment of a hybrid African Union-United Nations force of between 17,000 to 19,000 troops in Darfur.

Liu said both Chinese and South African governments welcomed the decision, which was announced after a closed-door meeting of the UN, AU and the Sudanese government in Adis Ababa, Ethiopia, early this week.

"China and South Africa hold similar view with regard to the Darfur issue... We need to give encouragement to the flexible attitude demonstrated in the recent meeting in Addis Ababa," Liu told a media briefing.

The newly-appointed Chinese envoy, who made a fact-finding trip to Darfur last month, said this was achieved thanks to efforts of the international community. "Now the Sudanese government has responded positively," he said.

The deployment of the hybrid peacekeeping troop is the final part of a three-phase support plan, also known as the Annan plan as it was put forward by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, with aims to end armed conflicts in Darfur.

The AU, the UN and the Sudanese government agreed last November on the plan. With the first phase of the plan already underway, Sudan announced on April 16 that it approved the inauguration of the second phase, which involves the deployment of 3,000 UN troops and six attack helicopters in Darfur to support the 7,800-strong African force, as well as preparation for the next phase.

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The Sudanese government has been accused by the United States of delaying the deployment of the hybrid force. But Khartoum strongly requested that the joint force must be predominantly African one.

Liu said the international community should now concentrate on how to support the deployment of the hybrid peacekeeping troop.

He said China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has been closely cooperating with the UN, AU and the Sudanese government on the Darfur issue, including the commitment to send 275 engineering troops to Darfur to support the second phase of the Annan plan, as well as 10 million U.S. dollars and other humanitarian support to Darfur.

"We have been playing a role of bridge... We have been trying to give advice and to persuade Sudan to be more flexible to accept the UN plan," he said.

Liu said he would also hold consultations with the AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare in Addis Ababa, with officials of the Arab League during his visit to Egypt, and make another visit to Sudan.

Liu said China opposed the move to put sanctions, which the United States threatened to use on Khartoum.

"We do not need to rush to put more sanctions," he said. "It's not a proper time now. Peace has a future. We need to work together, make efforts and help with the newly deployed AU-UN hybrid operation."

The Chinese diplomat also shrugged off the accusation on China' s failure to exert pressures on Khartoum, allegedly due to China's oil interest in Sudan.

"Pressure cannot solve anything," he said. "No matter how many troops you send, without a political presence and cooperation of the government, we cannot find a long-lasting solution."

"I think up to now we have been quite successful," he said.

He said China's normal ties with Sudan have been "unnecessarily politicalized," which were "unfair and irrational."

He said China will continue to be actively involved in projects, such as water-supply and establishing agriculture technology demonstration centers in Sudan, to help Sudan realize social and economic development, which "we regard as the root cause of the armed conflicts and humanitarian crisis."

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