Khartoum (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Chinese special envoy Liu Guijin, who arrived in Khartoum yesterday on a diplomatic mission, is formally pressuring the Sudanese government to consent to the use of non-African peace forces. It is rare criticism on the part of Beijing, just after the resignation of American director Steven Spielberg as artistic consultant for the Olympic Games. The famous director left his post after accusing China of not doing enough to resolve the crisis in Darfur.
The visit of the Chinese diplomat to Sudan is intended to send a signal to the country and to the international community, to demonstrate China's solidarity with the population in Darfur and promote the unity of the Sudanese government, in an effort to overcome the criticisms of commercial agreements between Beijing and Khartoum.
During a ceremony in the Sudanese capital, the Chinese ambassador guaranteed humanitarian assistance to the population of Darfur and more economic aid, for a total of almost three million dollars. In a declaration released yesterday by Xinhua - the news agency of the Chinese government - Liu Guijin invited the government of Sudan to unity and to greater cooperation with international forces to resolve the crisis in Darfur. "First, the Sudan government should co-operate better with the international community and demonstrate greater flexibility".
Sudanese president Omar al Bashir nevertheless seems somewhat resistant to accepting non-African peace forces in Darfur, at least until "the last African soldier has been deployed". The decision of Khartoum is seen by Western governments as a tactic to delay the deployment of international forces, with the result that there are only 9,000 peacekeepers on the ground, out of the 26,000 provided. The government has blocked Scandinavian peace forces from entering Khartoum, and Thai battalions are waiting for permission.
Meanwhile, the massacres continue in the tormented region. The UN has reported aerial bombardments on Sunday in Jabel Moun, to the west of Darfur, an area occupied by rebels that the Sudanese government is trying to reclaim. The United Nations fear that after the recent bombardment, there have been hundreds of civilian victims.
The conflict in Darfur, which has already lasted five long years, has killed more than 200,000 and made more than two and half million refugees.