China continues to maintain its position on JeM chief Masood Azhar while claiming “Settlement in Sight”

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Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. Xi urged both sides to reach an early consensus on the unification of China and Taiwan and not leave the issue for future generations. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool)

Beijing: Maintaining that its position on Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar “remains unchanged”, China on Wednesday said it is “having communication with relevant parties” on the issue of listing him as an international terrorist by the UN and that the matter is “moving in the direction of settlement”.

Chinese Foreign Ministry asked the US not to force through its own resolution on the matter and rejected the report that the US, the UK and France had asked Beijing to lift the technical hold on Azhar by April 23, failing which they will move a formal resolution for discussion, vote and passage at the UN Security Council (UNSC).

“On the issue of the listing of Masood Azhar, China’s position remains unchanged. We are also having communication with relevant parties and the matter is moving towards the direction of settlement,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said here.

Asked to elaborate further, Lu did not answer clearly.

“The matter is now moving in the direction of settlement. As to the specifics for the discussion in the 1267 Committee (of the UNSC), there are clear procedures and regulations regarding UNSC and its subsidiary bodies. We think members should follow and abide by such procedures,” the spokesperson added.

He was responding to a question whether anything was achieved after China claimed “positive progress” on the issue of declaring Azhar a terrorist.

“China’s position is very clear. This issue should be resolved through cooperation and we don’t believe that any efforts without the consensus of most members will achieve satisfying results,” Lu said.

For years, China has been blocking a move at the UNSC to ban Azhar, whose outfit has carried out several terror attacks in India, the latest being the ghastly February 14 suicide bombing on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama district of Kashmir in which 40 personnel were killed.

China has put “technical hold” at least four times on the resolutions being pushed by India, the US, the UK and France to proscribe Azhar under 1267 Sanctions Committee of the UNSC.

The last time that China blocked the move was after the Pulwama attack.

This prompted the US to draft a new resolution and take it directly to the Security Council for an informal discussion. Beijing slammed the move, saying this will complicate matters when “some progress” has already been achieved.

Lu again reiterated it when asked if China will support such a resolution in the Security Council.

“Regarding what you said, relevant parties are forcing a new resolution through the Security Council. We firmly oppose that. In relevant discussions, most members expressed that this issue should be discussed within the 1267 committee and they don’t hope to bypass the 1267 committee to handle the issue.

“We hope the relevant country can respect the opinions of most members of the Security Council to act in a cooperative manner and to help resolve this issue properly within the framework of the 1267 committee,” he added.

Asked if Beijing has been set a deadline of April 23 to lift the technical hold on resolution to ban Azhar at the 1267 Committee, Lu said: “I don’t know from where you get such information, but the Security Council and its subsidiary bodies like the 1267 Committee, they have clear rules of procedures and you have to seek clarification from those sources.”

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