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China Says Darfur Resolution Still Needs Changes

China says the U.N. Security Council is still working on a draft resolution that would authorize an expanded peacekeeping force in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region. This week, the resolution's European sponsors dropped the threat of sanctions against Sudan in an effort to pacify African countries that oppose such penalties. Victoria Cavaliere reports from VOA's New York bureau.

Britain and France, the co-sponsors of the resolution, say they changed the tone and language of the draft after consultations with the three African members of the Security Council - South Africa, Ghana, and the Republic of Congo.

Those countries, as well as China, opposed a provision that said the Council could take "further measures," a reference to sanctions, if Sudan refuses to comply with an expanded peacekeeping mission in Darfur.

The resolution calls for the deployment of a joint U.N.-African Union force of up to 26,000 troops to stop fighting between African rebels and the pro-government janjaweed militia. More than 200,000 people have been killed in the conflict, and more than 2 million more have been displaced.

China's U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, said the new draft has greater acceptance in the Council, but negotiations are continuing.

"I understand the experts are still working," he said. "I'm sure that you are aware that when the first draft was introduced, China and a number of others and the Africans were not happy with it. We thought that draft was out of balance. Still, with the help of the Africans, there's a draft that's been improved. But I still think in a number of areas, that members still have difficulties, including China."

China, which has veto power in the Council, imports two-thirds of Sudan's oil and has opposed harsh economic sanctions.

Meantime, the Sudanese government has blasted the revised resolution as "ugly" and "awful."

The United Nations and Western governments have been pressing Sudan since November to accept an expanded U.N. force in Darfur to help bolster the undermanned 7,000 strong African Union force currently in the region.

The United States and western countries have accused Sudan's government of stalling on accepting a resolution, thereby allowing the bloodshed to continue.

Britain and France say they hope to have a vote on the resolution by the end of this month.