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Swaraj, Wang to meet amid row over JeM chief Azhar's listing as global terrorist

Swaraj, Wang to meet amid row over JeM chief Azhars listing as global terrorist

Beijing: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi would meet on the sidelines of next week's Russia-India-China Foreign Ministers' conference in China amid Beijing's continued blocking of India and other countries' moves to list Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN.

The meeting assumes significance as it will be the first high-level interaction between the two countries after the Pulwama terror attack carried out by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in which 40 CRPF soldiers were killed on February 14.

China, while expressing shock over the incident, reiterated its stand to block moves to list Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN's 1267 Sanctions Committee.

The 16th meeting of the Russia-India-China (RIC) Foreign Ministers would be held at the Chinese city of Wuzhen in the eastern Zhejiang province on February 27, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang announced on Wednesday.

"During this foreign ministers' meeting, the three Foreign Ministers will focus on implementation of our leaders' consensus, and exchange views on major international, regional issues of common concern and deepening trilateral cooperation.

"I am sure this meeting will achieve positive outcomes," Geng said.

Besides Swaraj and Wang, the meeting would be attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, he said.

Official sources here told PTI that Swaraj and Wang would also meet on the sidelines of the RIC ministers meeting.

This is expected to provide an opportunity for both the ministers to have in-depth discussions on China's reluctance to back efforts by India, the US, the UK and France to list Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN's 1267 Sanctions Committee.

China, an "all-weather" ally of Pakistan and a veto-wielding member, has stonewalled all efforts by the four countries by putting technical holds since 2016.

However France, also a veto-wielding member, has announced that it would move a new resolution in the 1267 Committee to list Azhar in the light of the Pulwama attack.

To a question about the RIC meeting taking place under the shadow of the Pulwama attack, Geng, while reiterating China's stand, said that Beijing would adopt a constructive stand on this issue.

China hopes that with the concerted efforts by the three countries, RIC ministers meeting will achieve positive outcomes, he said.

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