China`s Hu warns Sarkozy on Libya strikes

Last Updated: Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 16:04

Beijing: Coalition military strikes on Libya could violate the "intention" of the UN resolution if civilians suffer, Chinese President Hu Jintao on Wednesday told visiting French leader Nicolas Sarkozy.

The tough talk from Hu came during a meeting at the start of Sarkozy`s mini-tour of Asia, which will include a G20 meeting on global monetary reform and a stop in disaster-struck Japan.

Britain, France and the United States on March 19 launched air strikes on Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi`s forces under the auspices of a UN Security Council resolution authorising "all necessary measures" to protect civilians.

"The aim of the UN`s resolution is to stop violence and protect civilians," Hu said in talks with Sarkozy in Beijing, according to comments published on China`s Foreign Ministry website.

"If the military action brings disaster to innocent civilians and creates a bigger humanitarian crisis, that would violate the original intention of the Security Council resolution," Hu said.

"China disapproves of using military force in international affairs."

Gaddafi`s forces are embroiled in a battle with rebels looking to put an end to the Libyan strongman`s 41 years in power. Sarkozy has said France recognised the rebel council as the only legitimate representative of the Libyan people.

China, which consistently opposes moves deemed to interfere in the affairs of other countries, abstained from the UN Security Council vote, although it did not use its veto power.

"Dialogue and other peaceful means are the only way to resolve this problem," Hu said, adding that China supports an immediate ceasefire to prevent the further loss of civilian life and restore stability as soon as possible.

Sarkozy -- who has spearheaded the coalition operation against Gaddafi -- told Hu that the strikes had not caused any civilian casualties "as far as we can make out", a French official told reporters after the talks.

"There is just a subtle difference and slightly worried questioning coming from China," the official said, adding that Hu and Sarkozy had also discussed nuclear issues in light of the atomic crisis in Japan.

"Where safety is concerned, the two want high standards and also want to share our experiences, our scientific data," the official added.

The French leader was due to head later to the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing, where he will open a meeting on Thursday of finance ministers and central bankers from G20 nations on global monetary reform.

France currently holds the rotating presidency of the Group of 20 leading economies.

The meeting -- which comes as the global recovery faces major challenges such as Japan`s quake-tsunami disaster and the ongoing eurozone debt woes -- aims to hone in on key ways to reform the monetary system.

Sarkozy said on Wednesday he hoped the seminar would spark a debate about "a hugely necessary reform of the international monetary system".

"We must fight against... monetary instability that risks reducing to nothing the competitive efforts that you are all making," he said.

However, presidential aides have already made clear that Paris is not expecting any "decision" or "conclusion" from the Nanjing meeting, which will feature a speech from International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

At a meeting in Paris in February, the G20 agreed to a set of indicators to measure economic imbalances between surplus exporters such as China and nations with structural deficits such as the United States.

But China has baulked at many of the indicators amid fears they could result in more pressure over its yuan currency, which critics argue is massively undervalued, giving the Asian powerhouse an unfair trade advantage.

After Sarkozy delivers the opening speech, he will head to Japan in a show of solidarity from France and both the G8 and G20 after the March 11 disaster, which has left nearly 11,000 confirmed dead and sparked a nuclear crisis.

The French leader will meet Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan in Tokyo before heading home.

Bureau Report



First Published: Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 16:04

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