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Ban praises China's 'helpful' role on Darfur

By Staff
Google Oneindia News

United Nations, June 2: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has praised China's ''helpful'' role in Sudan, defending Beijing against charges by an advocacy group that it was obstructing a solution to the violence in Darfur.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Ban also rejected comparisons made by the Save Darfur Coalition between China's actions in Sudan and its promotion of the 2008 Olympic Games, which it will be hosting in Beijing. He described the two issues as separate.

China, which has veto power on the UN Security Council, is a major investor in Sudan's oil industry, sells Khartoum weapons and has invested heavily in its infrastructure.

It favors sending UN peacekeepers to Darfur, where the United Nations estimates that fighting by government-linked militias and rebel groups has killed 200,000 people and forced 2 million more to flee their homes, but opposes any penalties to make Khartoum comply.

In full-page advertisements in major US newspapers and Chinese-language publications on Thursday, the Save Darfur Coalition said: ''While China prepares to host the 2008 summer games, its failure to stop the Sudanese government's slaughter in Darfur remains shamefully unacceptable.'' But Ban said: ''The Chinese government has been exerting its utmost efforts (on Darfur), as I understand and appreciate.'' China had appointed a special envoy on Darfur, President Hu Jintao had visited Sudan in February and Beijing had sent other high-level officials to Khartoum to discuss Darfur, he said.

''I appreciate such a Chinese role ... certainly it is helpful,'' Ban said.

The Save Darfur Coalition's advertisement featured a photo of a hand holding a starting pistol at a running track beside one of an African holding a rifle. ''Beijing Games. Darfur Massacre. China's Only Publicizing Its Role In One,'' it said.

But Ban said of the Olympics: ''I think this is a separate issue.'' The United States imposed unilateral sanctions on Sudan this week and sought support for an international arms embargo. But China said on Thursday new sanctions would hurt efforts to implement a UN peace plan for the western Sudanese region.

China denies that its ties with Sudan are abetting the bloodshed.

It says it has been encouraging Khartoum to be more flexible about accepting a UN force.

Sudan has agreed in principle to the UN plan to send in peacekeepers to bolster an African Union force, but says the ultimate number of troops is too large.


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