The EU says it is ready to give China a positive signal on lifting its 15-year old arms embargo, despite opposition from human rights campaigners and the US.
Dutch Foreign Minister and current head of the European Council, Bernard Bot, told journalists on Monday that the EU is ready to give a "positive signal" at an EU-China summit next month. "We are ready to give a positive signal as far as the lifting of the embargo is concerned, but ... there remain a number of concerns," he said. His comments follow a discussion by EU foreign ministers on Monday, which appears to signal a more flexible position from some EU members. The UK and some Scandinavian countries had opposed lifting the ban, which came into place following the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. However, any outright opposition now seems to have dissipated. It is expected that any revision of the ban would be coupled with a tightening up of the EU’s code of conduct which governs arms sales which may be enough to get an agreement among EU members. Diplomats say China may be willing to ratify the UN covenant on civil and political rights, which it signed in 1998. The EU-China summit takes place on Dec. 8. ( EUobserver.com)