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Chinese foreign ministry urged US to act cautiously on Masood Azhar issue

29 March, 2019

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A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson on Thursday urged the United States to act cautiously on the issue of blacklisting Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar and avoid bypassing the relevant committee of the UN Security Council, saying it would only complicate the issue.

The comment came a day after the US bypassed the 1267 Sanctions Committee — where an earlier move to blacklist Azhar had stalled recently — and directly filed a draft resolution with the UNSC to designate the JeM leader.

Speaking during a regular press briefing in Beijing today, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said the US move was not in line with the resolution of the issue through dialogue and negotiations.

He remarked that this action had undermined the authority of the sanctions committee as the main anti-terrorism body of the UNSC. "Such an act will do nothing to facilitate a solution through consultation and will only lead to further complication of the issue," Geng added.

The spokesperson urged the US to "exercise prudence and refrain from forceful actions" to have the resolution passed.

Explaining Beijing's position on the issue, he said since the Chinese side needed more time to conduct a "comprehensive and thorough assessment", it had put a technical hold on the listing of Azhar on March 13.

This, according to the official, was in line with the rules of procedure of the UN committee and there are precedents of technical holds in such cases.

Geng said the listing of the JeM chief involved a series of complex factors and so China has been working to seek a proper solution through dialogue and consensus.

"The Security Council should act prudently and play a constructive role by allowing time and space for dialogue and consultation between parties concerned," the spokesperson concluded.

The US had on Wednesday circulated a draft resolution to the UNSC that would blacklist Azhar as a terrorist, setting up a potential clash with China over the move.

China earlier this month put on hold a request to put the JeM chief on the UN sanctions list, over his alleged ties to Al Qaeda.

That request stalled in the UN sanctions committee, prompting the US to turn directly to the Security Council with the proposed resolution blacklisting Azhar.

India claims that JeM has accepted responsibility for the February 14 attack in Indian-occupied Kashmir's Pulwama district that killed 40 Indian troops and stoked tensions between India and Pakistan. However, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi denied in a television interview that this was the case.

The draft resolution obtained by AFP condemns the suicide bombing and decides that Azhar will be added to the UN Al Qaeda and Islamic State sanctions blacklist.

That would subject Azhar to a global travel ban, an assets freeze and an arms embargo.

It remained unclear when a vote would be held on the draft resolution, which could face a veto from China, one of the five permanent council members along with Britain, France, Russia and the United States.

Azhar is linked to terrorism for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities” carried out by JeM, according to an annex to the draft.

The draft resolution is backed by France and Britain, which joined the US earlier this month in pushing for sanctions against the JeM leader in the Al Qaeda and Islamic State committee.

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