Beijing: A day before the UN sanctions committee meeting, China on Tuesday said the vexed issue of designating Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN will be "properly resolved", but did not give any timeline.
China had put a technical hold in March on a fresh proposal to impose a ban on the head of Pakistan-based JeM, which claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack. It was for the fourth time that China blocked Azhar's listing as a global terrorist by the UN.
"I can only say that I believe that this will be properly resolved," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing, days after Chinese President Xi Jinping met Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
He was responding to questions on the media reports that China has reportedly consented to lift its technical hold on a fresh proposal moved by France, the UK and the US to list Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council.
The US, the UK and France this time stepped up pressure on Beijing by taking the issue directly to the powerful UN Security Council (UNSC).
Though China can exercise its veto power as a permanent member of the UNSC, Beijing has staunchly opposed the issue to be taken to the apex UN body as it has to publically explain its stand on its reservations to list Azhar, whose group JeM has already been designated as terror outfit by UN, before exercising its veto.
China has accused the US of scuttling progress to resolve the issue by taking it to the UNSC and insisted that it should be resolved at the 1267 Committee whose proceedings are not publicised.
"Regarding the listing issue in the 1267 Committee, we have expressed our position many times and I just want to stress two points," Geng said answering a number of questions on Azhar's issue. "First, we support the listing issue being settled within the 1267 committee through dialogue and consultation and I believe this is the consensus of most members. Second, the relevant consultations are going on within the committee and has achieved some progress. Third, I believe, with the joint efforts of all parties, this issue can be properly resolved," he said.
On reports that China would lift its technical hold on May 1, he said, "on the listing issue, China is still working with the relevant parties and we are in contact with all relevant parties within the 1267 Committee and I believe with the joint efforts of all parties, this will be properly resolved."
Asked about the recent visit of Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale to Beijing during which he held talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as well as New Delhi shared the technical evidence of JeM's involvement in the Pulwama terror attack, Geng reiterated that China is still working with the relevant parties.
"I believe with the joint efforts of all parties, this will be properly resolved," he said. The efforts to resolve Azhar's listing issue gathered momentum last week with the visit of Imran Khan to Beijing to attend China's 2nd Belt and Road Forum (BRF) which was held here from April 25-27.
During the visit, Khan held talks with Xi, besides meeting Premier Li Keqiang and Vice President Wang Qishan during which India-Pakistan tension following the Pulwama terror attack as well as listing of Azhar reportedly figured.
An official statement of China issued after Xi-Khan meeting on Sunday said the Chinese President had expressed hope that Pakistan and India can meet each other halfway and improve their relations. Both leaders also exchanged views on the situation in South Asia.
(With inputs from PTI)