Report: China hopes Sudan will be flexible on UN

A Chinese Foreign Ministry official visiting Sudan said China hopes Khartoum will show flexibility over a UN proposal to stop the fighting in the country's Darfur region, state media reported Monday. Xinhua News Agency said Zhai Jun, an assistant foreign minister, met Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during his four-day trip, which started Friday. China buys two-thirds of Sudan's oil exports and sells it weapons and military aircraft, but has been criticized for not using its influence to do more to stop the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region that has left at least 200,000 dead and forced more than 2.5 million from their homes since 2003. The United Nations and Sudan agreed in November on a plan backed by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the incremental deployment of a joint African Union-UN force of 20,000 peacekeepers, but al-Bashir has since backed off the deal, saying he would allow only a larger AU force with technical and logistical support from the United Nations.