03/05/2009, 00.00
CHINA - SUDAN
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China asks UN to suspend arrest warrant against Omar al-Bashir

Beijing is expressing fears that this could worsen the situation in Darfur. But for years, it has done nothing to prevent the genocide taking place, preferring to focus on its lucrative economic deals with Khartoum.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - China today asked the UN Security Council to suspend the arrest warrant issued yesterday by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, against Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The spokesman of Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang says that "China opposes any actions that may interfere in the peace situation in Darfur," and expresses "regret and worry about the International Criminal Court's issuing of an arrest warrant against the Sudanese president."

According to the UN, since 2003 in Darfur about 300,000 people have been killed, and 2.7 million made refugees, mostly civilians. President al-Bashir is accused of favoring genocide among the population. Khartoum says that only 10,000 have been killed, and has always denied the involvement of the government and the army in the massacres and violence against civilians. Mahjoub Fadul, the president spokesman, immediately called it "a flawed decision," and said that it will not be applied.

U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton has reacted favorably to the decision, while China, the African Union, and the Arab League have expressed the fear that this decision could destabilize the region and worsen the conflict.

Beijing is Sudan's leading trade partner (in the photo: al-Bashir in Beijing with Chinese president Hu Jintao), buying large quantities of oil and raw materials, and is highly criticized because it is not using its economic influence on the government to obtain the end of the civil war, while it is taking advantage of the embargo imposed by many countries because of the genocide. As a permanent member UN Security Council, China has repeatedly used its veto power to block sanctions against Sudan, saying that it is against interference in the domestic affairs of other states. Together with Russia, which has also supported Khartoum at the UN, it has violated the embargo established by the United Nations and has sold light weapons to the country, which have been used in Darfur, and is training pilots to fly Chinese Fantan A5 jets.

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