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FILE PHOTO: Maulana Masood Azhar, head of Pakistan's militant Jaish-e-Mohammad party, attends a pro-Taliban conference organised by the Afghan Defence Council in Islamabad August 26, 2001. REUTERS/Mian Kursheed/File photo(reuters_tickers)
BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Monday signalled it would again block an Indian request at the United Nations to blacklist the head of a Pakistan-based militant group because there was no consensus, a move likely to cause recrimination in New Delhi.
India, backed by the United States, has been trying to get Maulana Masood Azhar on a U.N. list of groups with ties to Al Qaeda, blaming his group for a series of attacks in India, including one on its parliament in 2002 and another last year on an airbase.
But China, a member of the U.N. Security Council, has repeatedly put a technical hold on the Indian request, the latest of which is due to end this week.
Such decisions must be based on cast-iron evidence and fully backed by members of the U.N. panel charged with implementing resolutions relating to sanctions on militant groups and individuals, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.
"China proposed a technical hold, the aim of which was to give more time for the committee members to discuss it and for relevant parties to have further consultations," Hua told a daily news briefing.
"But regrettably, the committee has yet to reach consensus."
The wrangling over Masood Azhar, a longtime Indian foe, has become a thorny issue in ties between China and India, which fears Beijing is disregarding its concerns over terrorism.
It has also fuelled worries that China will stick to its "all-weather" friend, India's arch-foe Pakistan, no matter the weight of evidence against Islamabad.
Pakistan denies giving material support to militants fighting Indian rule in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir besides carrying out attacks elsewhere.
It said it interrogated Azhar and his associates in the Jaish-e-Mohammad group after the January 2016 attack on the Pathankot air base but found no evidence linking him to it.
Hua said there were clear rules for listing a person or group as a terrorist, and that China has always believed the relevant U.N. committee should operate on the principles of objectivity, fairness and professionalism on this matter.
Jaish-e-Mohammad has already been blacklisted by the 15-nation Security Council, but not Azhar, an Islamist hardliner.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)