NEW DELHI: China on Wednesday said discussions on listing Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist under UN norms were moving towards a “settlement" but denied that any deadline has been served to it to remove its technical hold on the proposal to blacklist Azhar.
France had moved a resolution in the United Nations 1267 sanctions committee, after the 14 February Pulwama attack, to list Masood Azhar as a terrorist. The 1267 committee places punitive strictures on terrorist groups.
The French proposal was supported by the US and the UK. However, China, a veto wielding member of the UN Security Council, put a technical hold on the proposal. This was seen as happening at the behest of Pakistan, Beijing’s all weather friend, the fourth time since 2016 that China has stalled efforts by India, France, the UK and the US to ban Azhar.
“The matter (discussions on listing of Azhar) is moving towards the direction of settlement," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in Beijing on Wednesday.
However, Lu also said “China’s position (on the matter) remains unchanged. We also stay in communication with relevant parties."
When China placed a technical hold on the proposal last month, India said it was disappointed but was “cautiously optimistic" that Beijing would reverse its decision.
People familiar with the developments in New Delhi had said that India was willing to show patience and work with China “as long as it takes" to ensure that Azhar is placed on the list of UN designated terrorists.
Within days of China placing a hold on the proposal in the 1267 committee, the US circulated a draft proposal to blacklist Azhar at the UNSC. A report in The Times of India had said the US, France and the UK had given China till 23 April to remove its technical hold on the Azhar proposal in the 1267 committee, failing which the US would move its proposal in the UNSC. Vetoing the proposal in the UNSC would mean China being isolated as all other UNSC members are in favour of naming Azhar a terrorist under UN norms.
Lu, however, dismissed reports that the US, the UK and France had served Beijing an ultimatum to lift its “technical hold" on designating Azhar as a global terrorist. “You need to get clarification from the sources about where you get such information. China’s position is very clear. This issue should be resolved through cooperation. We don’t believe that any effort without the consensus of members will achieve satisfying results," he said.
Lu also said China was opposed to the US, the UK and France “forcing a new resolution through the UN Security Council". “We firmly oppose that. In fact, during the relevant discussion in UNSC, most members expressed the wish that this issue should be discussed within the 1267 committee and they don’t hope to bypass it to handle the issue," he said.
“We hope the relevant country can respect the opinion of most members of the UNSC to act in a cooperative manner and help this issue be properly resolved within the framework of the 1267 committee," Lu said, without directly naming the US.
PTI contributed to this story.