updated 4/11/2006 7:54:34 AM ET 2006-04-11T11:54:34

Irish rocker Bob Geldof's accusation that Beijing is to blame for the continuing civil war in Sudan would have more bite if China knew who he was.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said he'd never heard of anti-poverty campaigner and Live 8 organizer Geldof.

Asking "Who?" several times, Liu finally shook his head and said "I am sorry" after a reporter asked for comment on the 51-year-old Irish rocker's claims that China was protecting the Sudanese government because it provides 6 percent of China's oil.

"Anyway, I can brief you on China's position on Sudan," Liu said. "We are making efforts to restore peace in Sudan. We hope both parties can implement the agreements reached. We hope to see a stronger role for the African Union in solving the Sudan problem."

Liu didn't respond directly to the claim that China is protecting the Khartoum government because of its oil needs.

Geldof has won international acclaim for his humanitarian efforts and last year organized the Live 8 benefit concerts.

"I was in Darfur 20 years ago and people were killing each other then. It's an ancient battle between nomadic people and settled people, between Arab-Africans and black Africans, between Islam and Christians. ... The reason why it has not been resolved is because of China," Geldof said in Athens on Monday.

"The Chinese protect the Khartoum government ... and they will not allow a vote in the Security Council," he said.

No official figures exist but the conflict is estimated to have claimed more than 180,000 lives since 2003 and driven millions from their homes.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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