Embassy Row

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China still a target

As a U.S. Olympics gold medalist in speed-skating,Joey Cheek is not used to standing still. However, he waited patiently at the entrance of the Chinese Embassy for more than a half-hour to deliver petitions with 42,000 signatures, urging China to use its influence on Sudan to stop the genocide of the people of Darfur.

Finally, Chinese officials let him in to hand over the petitions, organized by the Washington-based Save Darfur Coalition. Cheek has long been active in raising money for Darfur refugees. He donated his $25,000 in award money from his 2006 Gold Medal to the Darfur cause.

The campaign to pressure China, the largest foreign investor in Sudan, did not stop with the petitions and a vigil outside the embassy last week.

“We absolutely are moving forward,” coalition spokesman Allyn Brooks-LaSure said yesterday. “We have no intention of yielding in actions to get China to take more forceful actions.”

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not comment on the petition drive, but the Chinese Embassy in Britain complained after the coalition bought an ad in the London-based Economist magazine. The ad campaign, which also appeared in American publications, linked China’s support for Sudan to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The coalition is not calling for a boycott, as some news organizations have reported. It is highlighting China’s role as host of the Olympics to urge it to assume greater leadership in Darfur.

Mr. Brooks-LaSure cited some press reports that said China, in its position as president of the U.N. Security Council, is trying to weaken a resolution to authorize U.N. peacekeepers to patrol Darfur, where Arab militias have been raiding African villages and killing civilians since 2003.

Mr. Brooks-LaSure called on China to end its policy of noninterference in the domestic affairs of other countries in the case of Sudan.

China consistently uses its ‘noninterference’ policy as a shield from doing more to stop the suffering in Darfur,” he said, adding that Sudanese President Omar Bashir is “all too happy to hide behind” it.

On to Kosovo

Wolfgang Ischinger is becoming a diplomatic troubleshooter for Germany.

As ambassador to the United States, Mr. Ischinger had to contend with U.S. criticism of Germany’s opposition to the war in Iraq. Now, as ambassador to Britain, he has been handed another difficult duty.

The European Union has tapped him as its envoy to talks over the future of the ethnic-Albanian province of Serbia. Kosovo is demanding independence, and Serbia is opposing it. A civil war between Kosovo rebels and the Serbian army ended in 1999 when NATO bombed Serbian troops for attacking ethnic-Albanian civilians in an ethnic-cleansing campaign. The province has been under U.N. administration since 2004.

U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari in April urged the Security Council to grant Kosovo independence, but Serbia denounced the proposal. Russia, Serbia’s ally on the Security Council, threatened to wield its veto against any independence resolution.

Mr. Ischinger, 61, will be part of a new “troika” of EU, U.S. and Russian diplomats to arbitrate new talks between Kosovo and Serbia.

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