Russia, China block Sudan sanctions; US wants vote

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UNITED NATIONS, Apr 17 (Reuters) Russia, China and Qatar blocked UN sanctions today against four Sudanese accused of war crimes in Darfur, but the United States said it would force a public vote on the issue.

The four, whittled down from a longer British list, include one Sudanese government official, one pro-government militia member, and two rebel leaders, the first to be slated for punitive action according to a resolution adopted a year ago.

A council sanctions committee distributed the four names on Thursday. The list would have been adopted if no one had objected.

Both the Russian and Chinese ambassadors told reporters now was not the time to impose a travel ban or an assets freeze on Sudanese individuals because of the ongoing peace talks on the Darfur in Abuja, Nigeria.

However, US Ambassador John Bolton said he was preparing a resolution that would impose the sanctions, thereby forcing Russia and China, which have frequently sided with the Khartoum government, to veto the action publicly.

''We've been trying to get this process in gear for a year,'' Bolton said. ''We think the list of four names that was submitted by a number of delegations last week is a solid list.'' REUTERS CH RN2331

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