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China Expresses Concern About ICC Charges Against Sudan's President


China has expressed concern about the decision to seek an arrest warrant in the International Criminal Court for Sudan's president. China also has denied a BBC report that said it violated a U.N. arms embargo against Sudan. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court have charged Sudan President Omar al-Bashir with genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes for his government's actions in Sudan's Darfur region. They have asked the court for an arrest warrant for him.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said Beijing maintains friendly relations with Sudan and is deeply concerned and worried about the charges.

He says the situation in the Darfur region is at a sensitive and critical moment. He says China hopes all sides can resolve their differences through consultation and avoid adding complications that could interfere with or harm the atmosphere of cooperation.

The ICC's charges against Mr. Bashir are the first against a head of state still in power. The Sudanese government has denounced the charges and says it will ignore any arrest warrant.

Mr. Bashir is accused of supporting Arab militias that have systematically raped and murdered black Sudanese in Darfur. Fighting in Darfur, involving southern Sudanese rebels, government troops and the so-called Janjaweed militia, has claimed more than 300,000 lives since 2003.

Liu says China is consulting with other U.N. Security Council members to see if the court could be blocked from issuing a warrant for Mr. Bashir.

China has been accused of adding to the violence in Darfur with arms sales to the Sudanese government.

A BBC report this week said there is evidence that China has been violating a U.N. arms embargo against Sudan. The report said Beijing sold Khartoum military trucks and trained Sudanese military pilots.

Liu dismissed the report, saying the BBC had ulterior motives for making the accusation.

He says the accusation from the BBC is unfair and incorrect. He says China has never violated any U.N. Security Council resolution.

China is a major investor in Sudan's oil industry and has been under pressure to use its influence to push Khartoum on peace talks with rebels in the war-torn region.

But China also has won praise for urging Sudan to accept international peacekeepers.

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