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Darfur Summit Ends in Paris
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A meeting upon which hope for the future of Darfur rested ended in Paris yesterday, after discussions took in needed political and economical support for the joint United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU) mission force in Darfur, refugee assistance, and on widening the Sudanese parties welcomed to the negotiating table.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, giving a press conference after the meeting, spoke of a "small light at the end of the tunnel," and announced the convening of a similar meeting in September.

US Secretary of State Condolezza Rice also spoke out, pledging a renewed commitment from the international community which would no longer "continue watching without acting" on the Darfur crisis.

Chinese deputy foreign minister Zhang Yesui also praised the agreement on the hybrid force which was reached between the UN, AU and Sudan. He said this showed a real commitment to peace but he did bemoan the lack of political process seen so far on Darfur, putting it far behind schedule when compared with peace-keeping operations. 

He also spoke out in support of the the political process "road map" presented by the UN secretary general's special representative Jan Eliasson and the AU's special coordinator for Darfur Salim Ahmed Salim. If followed, this road map would ask different parties to pressurize the Darfur rebels in returning to peace talks soon.

The implementation of the "road map" is a "crucial" stage, and such a momentum can be maintained by avoiding pressure and sanctions. The latter options would send "wrong signals" and would potentially wreck any confidence-building exercise between the government and the rebels, he said.

China will continue its unrelenting efforts for a resolution to the Darfur issue, added Zhang, illustrating the "positive and constructive" role played by China by pointing out the humanitarian assistance it has sent to Darfur, and the team of engineers ready for deployment there.

(Xinhua News Agency June 26, 2007)

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