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China on Wednesday said it was not facing any deadline to take a call on designating Masood Azhar, head of the Paksitan based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror group, as an international terrorist, and reiterated that progress was being made to achieve consensus on the issue in the 1267 committee of the United Nations Security Council.

In response to a question on listing Azhar, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said, “On the issue of the listing of Masood Azhar, China’s position remains unchanged. We are also having communication with relevant parties and the matter is moving towards the direction of settlement,” in the 1267 committee.

China has been sticking to its position that the issue of listing Azhar is the prerogative of the 1267 committee and has rejected a parallel initiative by the United States, France and Britain seeking a vote on banning Azhar in the Security Council plenary.

“Technical hold” on designating Azhar

Last month, China placed a “technical hold” on designating Azhar following the February 14 Pulwama attack in which more than 40 CRPF personnel were killed. The JeM had taken responsibility for the attack, triggering a cross-border air strike by the Indian Air Force on a training camp of the group in Balakot.

India had expressed disappointment over China’s move, but the U.S., along with France and the United Kingdom, had been vocal in criticising Beijing’s decision. Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “China abuses more than a million Muslims at home, but on the other it protects violent Islamic terrorist groups from sanctions at the UN.”

Asked whether China had been given an April 23 deadline by the U.S., France and Britain to lift its “technical hold” on listing Azhar, Mr. Lu was affirmative in denying the assertion. “I don't know from where you get such information, but the Security Council and its subsidiary bodies like 1267 committee, they have clear rules of procedures and you have to seek clarification from those sources.”

He added: “China’s position is very clear. This issue should be resolved through cooperation and we don’t believe that any efforts without consensus of most members will achieve satisfying results.”

China has emphasised that the purpose of its “technical hold” is to allow more discussion on the issue in order to achieve a consensus based settlement within the parameters of the 1267 committee.

Mr. Lu said, “In relevant discussions, most members expressed that this issue should be discussed within 1267 committee and they don't hope to bypass the 1267 committee to handle the issue. Regarding what you said, relevant parties are forcing a new resolution through the Security Council, we firmly oppose that.”

Last month, Beijing dismissed allegations that it was sheltering terrorists by placing a “technical hold” on listing Azhar. On April 1, the Chinese foreign ministry said Beijing “has been in close communication and coordination with various parties,” in the 1267 committee.
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