US set to clash with China over bid to blacklist Azhar

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UNITED NATIONS: The United States, Britain and France stepped up a push for the United Nations Security Council to blacklist the head of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) on Wednesday after China prevented an earlier move two weeks ago.

The United States circulated a resolution – drafted with British and French support – to the 15-member council that would designate Jaish-e-Muhammad leader Masood Azhar, subjecting him to an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze, diplomats said.

Reportedly, JeM claimed responsibility for a February 14 attack that killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police, making it the deadliest in Indian occupied Kashmir during a 30-year-long rebellion. It increased tensions between Pakistan and India.

The nuclear-armed neighbours both said they had shot down each other’s fighter jets last month.

The United States, Britain and France initially asked the United Nations Security Council’s Islamic State and al Qaeda sanctions committee, which operates by consensus, to blacklist Azhar.

The move, however, was delayed by China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said that China had conducted a “comprehensive and thorough evaluation” but still needed more time to consider the proposal. China had previously prevented the committee from sanctioning Azhar in 2016 and 2017.

Instead of consensus, a resolution only needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by China, Russia, the United States, France or Britain to pass. It was not immediately clear when the draft resolution to designate Azhar could be put to a vote.

The Chinese mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the draft text.


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