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China Pivotal in Pushing Sudan Peace Plan
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China played a pivotal part in getting Kofi Annan's peace plan for Darfur accepted by Sudan, said Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Zhai Jun on Wednesday.

Zhai's remarks came at a briefing the day after he returned from a four-day tour of Sudan acting as the Chinese government's special envoy. 

"In principle, Sudan has accepted the three-phased Annan plan, despite having reservations in certain aspects of it," Zhai said. "Sudan is most concerned about securing its sovereignty and territorial integrity."

A foundation of the Annan plan is the increase of peacekeepers in Darfur, the war-torn western region of Sudan.

During his stay in Sudan, Zhai consulted with Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir and senior government officials before visiting refugee camps in Darfur.

Zhai's trip formed part of China's continuing attempts to broker a peace deal in Darfur, in keeping with China's basic desire for peace, stability and development in Darfur to be secured through negotiation, said Zhai.

China has tried various diplomatic ways, including visits by head of state, special envoy and telephone negotiations, to consult with relevant parties, narrow down their differences and promote dialogues, he said.

After a range of diplomatic efforts on many levels, Zhai spoke of his optimism towards finding a peaceful settlement, denying it would be necessary to resort to sanctions.

Turning to the humanitarian crisis which currently grips Darfur, Zhai stated that China has so far given 80 million yuan (US$10.4 million) to the region. 

Zhai also slammed calls from some quarters to boycott the Beijing Olympic Games due to China's policy in Darfur, saying they were doomed to fail and dismissing these rumor-mongers as "either ignorant or ill-natured."

"These people's remarks are contrary to the spirit of the Olympics and the universally accepted principle of non-politicization of sport. Their attempts do nothing more than challenge the will of people across the world," he said, adding that the Games would be a great success.

(Xinhua News Agency, April 12, 2007)

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