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Spanish EU presidency mulls lifting China arms embargo

26 January 2010, 13:32 CET
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(BRUSSELS) - The European Union's Spanish presidency is considering whether to lift the bloc's arms embargo on China, Spain's Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said Tuesday.

Spain is "weighing the pros and cons" of the embargo, which Europe introduced after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on Chinese pro-democracy protesters, Moratinos told a press conference.

The European Union has long agreed to reconsider the decision to ban the sale of arms to China, Moratinos said.

France has been one of the main supporters of lifting the ban and "Spain is following that line," he added.

"We are all aware of the new role which China is assuming in the world," and the desirability "to improve relations with China to ensure the best possible dialogue," said Moratinos, whose country holds the EU presidency for the first half of the year.

The time is right to "consider whether the consequences allow" for the embargo to be lifted, he underlined.

In 2008, the European parliament voted to retain the arms embargo as long as Beijing helps armed forces and groups involved in African conflicts in general.

Moratinos was reacting to reporters' questions on comments made by Spain's ambassador in Beijing.

"We hope to deepen discussions on lifting the ban" during Spain's six-month EU presidency, ambassador Carlos Blasco Villa tod the official English-language China Daily.

There is, nonetheless, a reticence to lift the embargo unless done in tandem with the United States, due to security implications, a diplomat added.

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