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New Sanctions Against Sudan Inopportune
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The agreement among Sudan, the African Union (AU) and the UN to allow 3,000 of the world body's troops and equipment in Darfur is a positive move towards peace in the region, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Jianchao said yesterday.


"It's time to undertake constructive measures to implement the agreement, instead of talking about new sanctions," Liu said at a regular press meet.


Sudan agreed on Monday to the UN support plan's second phase, which calls for the deployment of 3,000 UN troops and six attack helicopters in Darfur to support the 7,800-strong African force. Also, they will help prepare for the next phase of the plan during which a much larger UN force would be sent to the region.


The step was welcomed by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who declared his willingness "to move expeditiously, in close cooperation with the AU, with the deployment."


On Wednesday, however, US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair threatened Sudan with stiffer sanctions if it didn't take quick and concrete steps to contain violence in Darfur. Blair said talks would start on Thursday (local time) in New York on a new UN resolution.


But many UN Security Council members oppose fresh sanctions on Sudan in the near future. Senior envoys from Russia, China and South Africa told reporters that they did not believe the time was right after Sudan had agreed this week to let in extra peacekeepers.


"It is better not to move in that direction (imposing sanctions)," China's deputy UN ambassador Liu Zhenmin said on Wednesday. "I think in a few weeks, or a few months, the political process will produce some results."


"That's why China believes... (while) all these actions are being taken, the Security Council should avoid imposing any sanction."


Russia's stance


Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, too, said "it is not the right time" to consider new sanctions.


"It would be very strange," he said. "After a long while, we have this positive development in the dialogue between the UN and Khartoum, and to come back with some sanctions all of a sudden would not be good."


Bush said on Wednesday that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir must allow more UN support forces, facilitate deployment of a full UN-AU peacekeeping force, stop supporting violent militias and let humanitarian aid reach the people in Darfur.


"If President Al-Bashir does not meet his obligations, the United States of America will act," Bush said.


In Sudan, President Al-Bashir accused the US administration of being the major cause of these problems.


"All the rebel movements in other countries are described as terrorist organizations, but any group in Sudan that raises arms against the government is described as deprived and marginalized," the official Sudanese SUNA news agency cited Al-Bashir as saying.


Al-Bashir made the remarks at a mass rally in his hometown of Hosh Banaga in northern Sudan in the presence of a US media delegation.


Also on Wednesday, a confidential UN panel report said the Sudanese government and the rebels both were shipping weapons and ammunition into conflict-ridden Darfur, a charge Khartoum has denied.


The UN has not released the report so far, but the New York Times posted it on the Internet on Wednesday, saying it had received it from the diplomat of a country that wanted it publicized.


The report was sent to the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Sudan, which includes all the 15 council members. The members have been asked to decide whether or not the report should be made public.


(China Daily April 20, 2007)

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