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UN expects China to expand participation in peacekeeping
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The United Nations expects China to have greater and active involvement in future peacekeeping missions, a senior UN peacekeeping official said in Beijing Wednesday.


"China has made considerable contribution to UN peacekeeping and I hope the participation to grow in years," said Jean-Marie Guehenno, under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations of the United Nations, at a press conference.


He said he discussed the possible expansion with Chinese officials from the ministries of defense, public security and foreign affairs.


China announced on Tuesday that a 315-member engineering group would go to Darfur on Friday. It would be the first batch of peacekeeping troops of the United Nations and the African Union in place in the troubled western Sudanese region.


"This engineering unit has a critical role to play to facilitate the deployment of other units," Guehenno said.


China has provided the second most peacekeepers among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, following France, with about 1,800 soldiers and police serving UN missions globally.


"The expansion of Chinese involvement in UN peacekeeping has both practical and political reasons," Guehenno said.


China's active involvement in UN peacekeeping , an important instrument for the UN to manage conflicts around the world, sends strong signals that it not only stays in a key position in decision-making of the UN Security Council but it also plays its part in implementation, he said. With China's participation, the implementation will be more successful.


From a practical perspective, China has sent the speciality units that UN peacekeeping missions always need, such as engineering and medical units, Guehenno said. "We hope China to send more of such units, especially transport units."


When asked about the Darfur mission, he said it faced "enormous challenges". Questions also remained whether it was possible to deploy a strong peacekeeping force as the international society expected.


In addition, it depended on political circumstances in the war-torn region and the willingness of member countries to provide troops, he said.


The successful mission needed the unity of the Security Council and parties of the conflict in Darfur, he said. "The UN Security Council is working to reach a unity but differences remain."


(Xinhua News Agency November 22, 2007)

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