Beijing: India and Pakistan should resolve the issue over Masood Azhar through “direct” and “serious consultations”, China said on Tuesday, weeks after blocking India’s bid in the UN to ban the JeM chief that generated negativity in bilateral ties.

“We encourage all parties related to the listing matter of Masood Azhar to have direct communication and work out a solution through serious consultations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a written communication to PTI here on the issue which drew serious protests from New Delhi over Beijing’s last minute move to block its bid to slap a UN ban on Azhar.

File image of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar. AFP

File image of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar. AFP

Replying to a question about whether there is any change in China’s stand on the issue after a number of top Indian officials conveyed India’s strong concerns over the move, Hua said as per the rules of the UN Committee on counterterrorism, the relevant countries should have direct talks.

In addition to Hua’s comments, Chinese officials expressed confidence that the issue will be resolved as Beijing is also in touch with Islamabad on the issue.

Her comments came as Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan held talks in New Delhi on Tuesday, in which India raised the Azhar issue.

While External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj took up the issue with her counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of Russia, India, China (RIC) Ministers meet in Moscow on 18 April, it was raised by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar with his Chinese counterpart the same day in Beijing.

The issue was subsequently raised by National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi during the just-concluded 19th round of India-China border talks.

China – one of the five veto-wielding members of the 15-member UN Security Council, which plays a leading role in banning terrorist outfits through the 1267 committee on counterterrorism issues – was the only country that put a technical hold on India’s bid to ban Pakistan-based Azhar in March.

The move was criticised by India’s Permanent Representatives to UN Syed Akbaruddin as “hidden veto”.

Hua, however, once again defended China’s move to put technical hold, saying that Beijing’s move is in line with the UNSC rules and procedures.

“On the listing matter of the (UN) Security Council Committee established pursuant to Resolution 1267, I want to point out that China has been fairly dealing with the matter in accordance with the Security Council resolutions and relevant rules of procedures on the basis of facts,” she said.

“It is in line with the Security Council resolutions and 1267 committee’s rules of procedure for China to place a technical hold on the listing of Masood Azhar,” she said.

Stating that the relevant rules are in the public domain of the UN for all to verify, she said “in accordance with the rules of procedures of the 1267 Committee, the Committee encourages communications between countries that ask for the listing and countries where individuals and entities in the listing come from and live in.”

Stating that China and India are victims of terrorism and have similar stances on the issues of counterterrorism, she said “the Chinese side supports the central coordination role of the UN in the international cooperation against terrorism and takes active part in this regard”.

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After vetoing India’s bid in UN, China says India should talk with Pakistan over Masood Azhar