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EU Considers Lifting Arms Embargo on China

The European Union (EU) is considering to lift the ban of arms sale to China, the foreign ministers' meeting of EU members and would-be members revealed Monday.

On Monday afternoon, the foreign ministers, who met for the first time this year, discussed the arms embargo to China but they did not reach a resolution on the issue.

"The (EU) Council had a first discussion and ministers have invited COREPER and COPS to examine and will revert," said Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen, who chaired Monday's meeting as Ireland is holding the EU Presidency.

The COREPER (the Permanent Representatives Committee), consisting of ambassadors from all EU members, the COPS (the Standing Political and Security Committee) are both coordinating organs under the EU Council.

Both Javier Solana, EU high representative for common foreign and security policy, and European Commissioners for external affairs Christopher Patten were in favor of reviewing the embargo.

"It is quite clear the situation in China has changed dramatically and the new leadership represents the next generation," said Patten at a press conference after the meeting.

He noted that China's human rights situation has improved since the EU imposed the ban, though the EU is not fully satisfied with China's human rights record.

Last October, China issued its EU policy paper, urging the EU to "lift its ban on arms sales to China at an early date."

At the EU summit last December, the EU leaders ordered the EU Council to "reexamine the question of the embargo on the sale of arms to China."

(Xinhua News Agency 27, 2004)

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