China on Wednesday welcomed the UN Security Council's decision to create a new peacekeeping force in war-torn Darfur and called on the international community to help resolve the conflict.
China, which has come under criticism in the past over its relations with the regime in Sudan, went along with the Council in a unanimous vote on Tuesday approving a joint UN-African Union peace force in Darfur.
"This is the result of concerted effort and should be fully recognised and encouraged," Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said just hours after the UN vote passed the resolution mandating the 26,000-strong force.
"Good implementation of the resolution is of highest importance," he said on the sidelines of an Asian security conference in Manila, ahead of a meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte.
China is Sudan's biggest arms supplier and oil customer. Beijing has previously urged the international community not to pressure the government, and Yang again said China believed in a political solution to the conflict.
"As the peacekeeping operation makes progress, the international community should take effective measures to promote the political process concerning Darfur, in order to seek a comprehensive solution to the issue," he said.
At least 200,000 people have died in Sudan's western Darfur region, and two million more driven from their homes, since February 2003, according to the United Nations. Sudan says the figures are exaggerated.