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China Concerned By Sudan Arrest Plan

China Concerned By Sudan Arrest PlanBEIJING (AP) — China said Tuesday it was concerned about an International Criminal Court prosecutor's decision to seek an arrest warrant for Sudan's president on charges of genocide in the African country's war-torn Darfur region.

Monday's indictment marked the first time prosecutors at the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal have issued charges against a sitting head of state, though President Omar al-Bashir is unlikely to face trial any time soon.

"To the relevant moves of the ICC ... we express our concern. We hope the relevant moves are conducive to the stability of Sudan," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said at a regular news conference.

Liu said China would continue to consult with other members of the U.N. Security Council about whether to block the International Criminal Court from issuing the arrest warrant, but said he "cannot speculate" what the results of the talks will be.

Sudan has denounced the indictment as a political stunt, and says it will ignore any arrest order. One Sudanese lawmaker said his government could no longer guarantee the safety of U.N. staff in the troubled region.

But Liu said Khartoum has all along said peacekeepers in Darfur will be safe.

"We appreciate their attitude," he said.

The international court's prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo filed 10 charges against al-Bashir related to a campaign of extermination of three Darfur tribes that the U.N. says has claimed 300,000 lives and driven 2.5 million people from their homes. A three-judge panel was expected to take two to three months to decide whether to issue an arrest warrant.

Human rights groups have welcomed the prosecutor's move, but cautioned it could provoke a violent backlash from Sudan while offering little prospect that al-Bashir will be arrested and sent for trial at The Hague.

The court, which began work in 2002, has no enforcement arm and relies on governments to act as its police force.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir attends a ceremony, which included a patriotic song to which those present waved their traditional sticks in the air and paraded past him, celebrating the approval of an election law that sets the guidelines for a key vote next year, in the capital Khartoum, Sudan Monday, July 14, 2008. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court filed genocide charges Monday against the Sudanese President, accusing him of masterminding attempts to wipe out African tribes in Darfur with a campaign of murder, rape and deportation, but Sudan rejected the charges and the court's jurisdiction, and one top lawmaker said his government could no longer guarantee the safety of United Nations staff in the troubled region. (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)

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