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FM: Special Envoy Appointed to Focus on Darfur
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The Foreign Ministry revealed yesterday the appointment of a new a special representative for African affairs to focus on the Darfur issue, as well as pledging to dispatch 275 military engineers to a peacekeeping contingent in the stricken region.


The inaugural post will be taken up by Liu Guijin, a former ambassador to Zimbabwe and South Africa.


"Since the situation in Darfur has drawn significant attention from the international community, the special representative will focus on this issue," ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular press briefing, adding that Liu would strive for an overall improvement in Sino-African relations.


Jiang praised recent developments in Darfur as positive and pointed out the fact that all sides remained committed to dialogue and negotiation.


Addressing reports that a group of over 100 US lawmakers sent a letter to President Hu Jintao urging China to do more to stem violence in Darfur, Jiang congratulated the US for its positive role in resolving the issue.


"I can say that China and the US share the same objective in Darfur. We both hope to resolve the issue through political means," she said.


The 275 Chinese military engineers will go as part of the "Annan peace plan," under which UN forces will team up with African Union (AU) counterparts on the ground to halt the bloodshed.  


Sudan recently agreed to allow a "heavy UN support package" of about 3,500 personnel to bolster the 7,000-strong AU force.


Sino-UK ties


After a decade in office, Tony Blair announced his resignation as British prime minister and Labor Party leader yesterday, a decision that will come into effect on June 27.


Jiang said that Sino-British ties had maintained a sound momentum of development in recent years with consistent high-level visits and political dialogue leading to comprehensive pragmatic cooperation.


This year marks the 35th anniversary of ambassadorial diplomatic relations between the two nations and in such spirit, Jiang vowed China would work with the UK to further their comprehensive strategic partnership. However, Jiang carefully avoided commenting on Blair's resignation itself.


Dalai Lama


As the Dalai Lama cancelled a planned trip to Brussels earlier this week, Jiang asked the international community to ward off attempts by the Dalai Lama and his followers to worsen their relations with China.


The Dalai Lama stands for "Tibet independence," a line firmly opposed to by the central government, Jiang said.


"The Dalai Lama's words and actions in the past decades show that he is not a purely religious figure, but a political exile cloaking himself in religion to carry out his separatist activities," she said.


State visits


Jiang also announced that the British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Margaret Beckett, will visit China from May 16 to 21, and that Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen will travel to the country from May 15 to 17.


(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency May 11, 2007)

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