April 10, 2007 / 9:40 AM / 12 years ago

China and U.S. urge diplomatic solution in Darfur

Internally displaced Sudanese women sit inside their make-shift house in their camp near El-Fasher, capital of the north Darfur region, March 25, 2007. REUTERS/Michael Kamber

BEIJING (Reuters) - China and the United States have discussed promoting the continued use of political and diplomatic efforts to resolve the Darfur crisis, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte discussed Darfur in a late-night phone call, ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a news conference.

“In their talks, the two sides discussed issues concerning the implementation of the Annan plan,” Qin said, referring to a peace plan put forward by former U.N chief Kofi Annan to deploy a hybrid African Union-U.N. peacekeeping force in the region.

“But it requires consultations between the Sudan government, African Union and the United Nations to decide the timing of the deployment and implementation of the plan,” he said.

More than 200,000 people are believed to have died in Darfur and some 2.5 million have been driven from their homes into squalid camps since ethnic tensions erupted into revolt in 2003.

The United States and other Western powers have sought to authorise U.N. peacekeepers to quell violence in Darfur, where government-backed militia have been fighting rebel forces. African Union troops have failed to stop massacres.

Negroponte is expected to visit Sudan and give a tough message from Washington, which has threatened new measures in an effort to break resistance to sending international troops to back the ill-equipped African Union forces.

China, which buys much of Sudan’s oil and wields veto power over U.N. resolutions, is facing rising criticism from Western governments and rights campaigners for having rejected a U.N. force deployment.

Beijing had earlier told Khartoum it should show more flexibility on the Annan peace plan and improve humanitarian conditions there.

Additional reporting by Vivi Lin

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