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Respect Geneva Convention on POWs, Urges FM
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Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan Tuesday called on countries involved in the war in Iraq to abide by the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war (POWs).

"We appeal to the two sides to fully abide by the Geneva Convention and other related international humanitarian conventions as the war progresses,'' said Kong at a regular press briefing.

However, he reiterated again that military action on Iraq should be halted so that the Iraqi issue could be resolved through political and diplomatic processes.

"China will seriously consider any plan or suggestion conducive to ending military action and restoring peace,'' said Kong.

According to the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, POWs are to be accorded humanitarian treatment and their personal rights and dignity are to be respected.

Kong's comments followed the display of US POWs on Iraqi television. US officials have claimed that such footage was a violation of the Geneva Convention -- however television footage showing surrendered Iraqi soldiers has also drawn criticism.

In another development, State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan Tuesday told former US National Security Adviser Sandy Berger that the US, Britain and other concerned countries should bring military action to an end as soon as possible while doing their utmost to avoid civilian casualties.

Tang stressed that the authority of the United Nations must be respected.

Tang went on to say that, although Iraq should not possess weapons of mass destruction of any kind, its sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected.

Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing Tuesday also stressed the importance of ending military action in Iraq during a phone conversation with his Bulgarian counterpart Solomon Pasi.

He said that China is willing to co-operate with the international community to push for an end to military action and a return to diplomatic and political processes to resolve the Iraq issue.

Spokesman Kong told the press Tuesday that China is "seriously concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in Iraq.''

On Saturday, China's Foreign Ministry announced that it was ready to send the first humanitarian assistance shipment to Jordan for Iraqi refugees there.

Li pledged Tuesday that China will provide new assistance if necessary.

Kong Tuesday also briefed the press on the latest development concerning the Chinese fishing trawler attacked in Sri Lanka.

According to Kong, seven bodies have so far been found. He said that China has asked neighboring countries to assist in the search for the other missing fishermen.

Fifteen Chinese on board a fishing trawler from East China's Fujian Province went missing when their boat was hit by an unidentified armed ship in the early hours of last Thursday off the east coast of Sri Lanka. Of the eight who were rescued, five have received medical treatment in the capital Colombo.

China has urged the Sri Lankan Government to make public the investigation results as soon as possible, said Kong.

Turning to the killing of 24 Hindus by unidentified gunmen in Kashmir on Monday, Kong said that China is "shocked'' and "condemns'' the act.

He also offered sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims.

(China Daily March 26, 2003)

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