Friday, September 08, 2006

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to meet PM Blair Sep 12

Following on from yesterday's news that the UK is looking to Russia and China to allay Khartoum's fears of UN force, here is news of meetings in London Sep 12. Reuters Sophie Walker report 7 Sep 2006 - excerpt:
Chinese officials were speaking to reporters ahead of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's trip to London next week when he will discuss Iran, the Middle East and Sudan, among other issues, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Wen and Blair are also expected to discuss a United Nations proposal to send a UN peacekeeping force to Sudan's Darfur region, where an African Union force has been unable to end the humanitarian crisis in the lawless west of the country.

A senior British official said China was in a unique position because of its booming trade links with Africa to bring its influence to bear on the matter.

"China now has the clout with many African countries to add real weight to the achievement of important international objectives. We're very keen to work with China more than we have done in the past on the problems of Africa," he said.

China, which is developing close contacts with Africa as a source of raw materials and market for cheap exports, abstained from a UN vote at the end of August which was in favour of creating the UN peacekeeping force.

"We think that for this issue ... it should get the agreement of the Sudan government beforehand because (it) is a very important party in this issue," Xu said.

Wen and Blair will also sign an agreement on climate change, the Chinese official said.

Wen is due in London on Sept. 12, with a delegation including Commerce Minister Bo Xilai and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, who will likely meet British Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett.

Protest in Khartoum

Photo: Pro-Sudanese government demonstrators chant anti-UN slogans in the capital Khartoum August 30, 2006, during a protest march organised against the deployment of UN forces in Darfur. Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdalah

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