Foreign Ministry Says China Is Willing To Discuss Kashmir Attacker Blacklisting Dispute

Masood Azhar
Demonstrators step on the posters of Maulana Masood Azhar, head of Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad which claimed attack on a bus that killed 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in south Kashmir on Thursday, during a protest in Mumbai, India, February 15, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas)

China's Foreign Ministry said on Friday that the government is willing to discuss its stand on blocking a U.N. Security Council committee from blacklisting Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) founder Masood Azhar. The militant party said it is responsible for the February attack in Kashmir.

"China is willing to strengthen communication with all parties, including India, to appropriately handle this issue," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a faxed statement to Reuters.

The statement came following the emergence of boycott calls on Chinese products. The widespread boycott call was made through domestic social media pages shortly after India expressed disappointment over the blacklisting block.

The Ministry explained that China's decision to place a "technical hold" on blacklisting Azhar was made to buy more time for discussing the issue. It also said it is hoping the committee's decisions will be focused on "reducing the tense situation and protect regional stability."

The dispute was triggered by the February 14 attack on an Indian convoy that resulted in the death of around 40 paramilitary police. The attack was the deadliest yet in Kashmir's 30 years under dispute and has triggered tensions between neighboring countries.

Earlier this month, The Times of India reported that China sent vice-foreign minister, Kong Xuanyou, to Islamabad in hopes of discussing the dispute between Pakistan and India. At that time, sources revealed that Kong was expected to initiate talks about the Asian country's approach on the Kashmir attacker's blacklisting.

Analysts suggested that China is reconsidering its decision on blocking Azhar's blacklisting due to the approval of the United States, France, and the United Kingdom's approval of the ban. Russia, on the other hand, has evaded questions about its stance on the issue.

France, the U.S., and the U.K. are reportedly holding "intense" talks with the Chinese government as all parties are determined to agree on a "compromise." The governments involved have yet to confirm the news.

Meanwhile, Azhar wrote an article on the JeM mouthpiece, Al-Qalam, as if responding to rumors about his alleged death earlier this month. According to India Today, Azhar dismissed the rumors and said he suffered from the people of Afghanistan. The outlet reiterated that it could not independently verify the validity of the article.

Azhar reportedly used his pen name "Sa'adi" in the article but no confirmations have been made by the militant group. JeM has yet to officially release a statement on the rumored kidney and liver issues that its founder is said to be battling with.

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