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'Single voice needed' on Darfur issue
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The international community should not overestimate China's influence over the Darfur issue, but pursue a holistic approach to resolving the problem, the country's special representative to Darfur said on Friday.

This holistic approach should reflect a "single voice from the whole international community to exert balanced influence on the Sudanese government and the resisting forces", Liu Guijin told a press briefing in Beijing after returning from a 10-day visit to Khartoum and other countries.

Responding to questions on China's arms sale to Sudan, the envoy said it is neither fair nor objective to criticize China on this issue because Beijing is not Sudan's major weapons supplier.

"China is one of seven countries that sell weapons to Sudan, but not the biggest," Liu said, adding that neither the UN nor the international community as a whole has any embargos or other prohibitive bills on weapons sales to Khartoum.

"Moreover, China has never sold weapons to any non-state forces. It also imposes strict limitations on the quality of weapons for sale and follows the principle that the recipient should never forward these weapons to a third party," Liu said.

China actually plays a minor role in the international arms market, he said.

Arms exports from the US accounted for almost 30 percent of the global market in 2006, while those from China accounted for just over 2 percent, according to Sweden's Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Similarly, of the conventional weapons sold to developing countries in 2006, China accounted for 3 percent and the US 36 percent, according to a report released by the US Congressional Research Service in September of last year.

Liu said China had returned to the UN arms sale registration system and all Chinese weapons sold to Sudan were registered.

Liu recently visited Darfur to push forward an earlier deployment of a United Nations-African Union joint peacekeeping force.

Sudan has accepted the deployment of a 26,000-strong UN-AU force, but only 9,000 troops are on the ground.

"The hybrid forces should be deployed as soon as possible", Liu said.

Promoting the political process is the other important issue because "peacekeepers will not be deployed easily or achieve the expected effect without political process", he said.

But the process has become stagnant because of the resisting forces' unwillingness to return to the negotiating table.

"The international community should make a joint effort to bring the rebel forces back into negotiations," Liu said.

(China Daily March 8, 2008)

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