Rejoin talks, envoy tells Darfur rebels

By Su Qiang (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-02-25 06:50

KHARTOUM: The Chinese special envoy for Darfur on Sunday urged nations with influence over rebel groups to pressure them to return to negotiations with the Sudanese government.

"The reluctance of Darfur's main rebel groups to return to the negotiating table has resulted in the disappointing tardiness of the political process in Darfur during the last few months," Liu Guijin said upon his arrival in Khartoum for a visit to Sudan.

"Only if those main rebel groups return to the negotiating table can Darfur achieve a certain extent of stability and the peacekeeping mission function smoothly," he said.

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Liu arrived in Khartoum from London early yesterday for a five-day visit to the country, including a trip to the Darfur region.

He said the political process had lagged behind the progress of the peacekeeping mission over the past months partly because some rebel leaders refused to join the negotiation table.

"Without political progress, peacekeeping forces cannot operate smoothly," he said, adding that pressuring only one side or the Sudanese government is not the proper way to achieve a political solution.

In addition to asking countries where some Darfur political movement leaders live to use their influence to push them to talks, Liu also called the media, especially from the West, to present a more balanced, objective picture of what is happening in Darfur.

Before arriving in Khartoum, Liu visited Britain where he talked with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, delivered a speech at Chatham House and held a press conference.

Liu said he was asked by Western reporters in London whether his current visit to Sudan was linked with Hollywood director Steven Spielberg's decision to quit as an artistic adviser to the Beijing Olympic Games.

"I told them the answer is 'no'. China's commitment to resolving the Darfur issue is for the sake of peace, rather than expediency," he added.

He said he had held the press conference in London because he wanted to give a balanced and true view of Darfur issue and sent a strong message that it can only be solved though concerted efforts.

China is always ready to offer a helping hand to achieve the earliest resolution to the issue, he said.

Xinhua contributed to this story

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