UNITED NATIONS, Sept 10: Pakistan and China on Thursday expressed strong opposition to a US-sponsored resolution on Sudan which demands sanctions and a UN inquiry whether a genocide was taking place in the country.

As the UN Security Council began consultations, Chinese Ambassador Wang Guanya hinted that he would veto the resolution if it was not revised drastically. Ambassador Wang said: "Our intention is to help solve the problem, not to make it more complicated."

China considers sanctions counter-productive and Mr Wang said designation of genocide would only complicate matters. The Ambassador of Pakistan to the United Nations, Munir Akram, told reporters that the 15-member Security Council would have supported the US resolution before the statement issued by US Secretary of State Colin Powell saying that a genocide was taking place in Sudan.

"If you've already branded it as genocide before you begin the inquiry, it makes it look as if you're prejudging the result," Mr Akram said. The UN's emergency relief coordinator, Jan Egeland, has declared that "ethnic cleansing" was occurring in Sudan, but Secretary-General Kofi Annan has not used the term 'genocide', saying that the important thing was not the label, but alleviating the crisis.

But diplomats here questioned whether the US stand would provide momentum for a solution, since many nations oppose international intervention. At the United Nations, some diplomats even predicted a backlash.

"It will make a difference," Mr Akram asserted. "It is bound to make things more difficult." He questioned the value of the threat of penalties against Sudan's oil industry if Khartoum did not rein in the militia known as the Janjaweed.

"We just wonder whether the threats of sanctions or similar penal action will evoke the desired response from the government of Sudan," Mr Akram said. The United Nations says the 19-month conflict has killed an estimated 30,000 people and driven more than 1 million from their homes.

The resolution also calls for an increase in the number of African Union forces in Darfur, a region of western Sudan about the size of France. That proposal met with approval from the 15 Security Council members. US Ambassador John Danforth said the government of Sudan would not act without pressure.

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