|Statement by Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing at the Ministerial Meeting of the Security Council on the Question of the Sudan|
Mr. President, Dear Colleagues,
For some time, the question of Darfur, Sudan has been a focus of attention of the international community. A few days ago, we heard good news from Abuja: the Sudanese government and the SLA signed the Darfur Peace Agreement. This event represented a significant progress in the Abuja process and signified that the peace process in the Sudan has arrived at a new historical turning point. The Agreement has paved the way for an appropriate settlement of the protracted Darfur conflict. China is deeply gratified at this development and would like to express its sincere congratulations to the Sudanese government and the whole Sudanese people.
This achievement of peace has been difficult to come by. The Abuja talks have been an extremely arduous process with numerous relapses and delays. The African Union has invested a tremendous amount of energy and made relentless efforts to this end. African leaders like President Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of Congo, as well as the AU representative Dr. Salim have been doing their best in providing good offices and engaging in patient mediation efforts, which culminated in the signing of the Agreement. This has demonstrated once again that with the support of the international community, African problems can be solved through political negotiations by relying on the wisdom of the Africans, using African ways and under African leadership.
At the last critical moment of the negotiations, the Sudanese government and the SLA displayed great flexibility, to which China would like to express its high appreciation. We strongly urge those factions that have not yet signed the Peace Agreement to proceed from the long-term and fundamental interest of the Darfur people, seize this opportunity, follow the historical trend and make a prompt and right response to the requirement set our by the AU.
The signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement is only the first step in a thousand mile march. More important, more arduous and more complex challenges still lie ahead. Comprehensive, timely and faithful implementation of the Peace Agreement requires not only that various Sudanese factions fulfill their commitments, but also that the international community provide effective help. AMIS has played a major role in maintaining security in Darfur under extremely difficult conditions. Its great contributions deserve our full admiration. After the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement, AMIS will be entrusted with important responsibilities of monitoring and assisting the implementation of the Agreement. However, due to constraints in areas like personnel, equipment and funding, the capacity of AMIS has been greatly strained. In a few months' time, AMIS might even see its resources totally depleted. The African Union launched appeals on several occasions in earnest hope for much needed help. Strengthening AMIS is the consensus of all the members of the Security Council and the international community as a whole. The top priority now is to take action to turn that consensus into reality, help strengthen the capacity of AMIS, thereby laying a good foundation for the implementation of the Abuja Agreement.
Transition from AMIS to a UN-led operation is a decision in principle made by the AU. The UN Secretariat has also carried out relevant preparations in this respect. We have noticed that since the signing of the Abuja Peace Agreement, the Sudanese government has taken a more positive and open approach to cooperation with the UN. In this regard, China believes that the government of the Sudan and various factions in Darfur will all cherish the current favorable opportunity and speed up consultations and cooperation with the UN in a common endeavor to ensure the smooth and comprehensive implementation of the Peace Agreement. I wish to take this opportunity to stress once again that the sole purpose of a UN operation in Darfur is to assist the Sudanese government and various factions in Darfur in implementing the Abuja Agreement. Therefore, consent and cooperation of the Sudanese government are pre-requisites for the deployment of a UN operation.
The humanitarian situation in Darfur has touched the heart of each and every one of us. Since the outbreak of the conflict in 2003, numerous innocent civilians lost their lives and million of people were displaced and suffered from hunger. Harassment and looting have rendered the plight of women and children even more miserable. China is deeply worried about the lack of improvement in the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur. We urge all the parties concerned to stick to their commitments and ensure the freedom of movement of humanitarian relief workers so that necessary humanitarian goods can reach the hands of all refugees and IDPs in a timely manner. At present, the international community is faced with the urgent problem of the serious inadequacy of humanitarian relief funds and materials in the Darfur region, which threatens many relief agencies with the prospect of closing down and withdrawal. The people of Darfur, the people of the Sudan and the people of Africa are looking forward to actions by the international community to solve this burning problem. The international community is politically and morally duty-bound to ensure that the expectations of the civilians in Darfur not turn into disappointments.
As a member of the international community, China is willing to work with all others and try our best to help the Sudan realize at an early date peace, stability, prosperity and development and help the country build up a harmonious society in which all factions coexist in peace and the people enjoy security and well-being.
Thank you, Mr. President.