China calls for peaceful solution to Syria issue

Updated: 2012-02-25 08:21

By Zhang Chunyan (China Daily)

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China's Middle East envoy says veto of UN resolution was misunderstood

London - China supports all efforts that are conducive to peacefully resolving the Syrian issue, China's Middle East envoy said on Friday.

"China will continue to keep in touch with all concerned parties in the United Nations, keep in touch with the Arab League and keep in touch with the Syrian government and all of its political parties," Wu Sike, who finished his visit to the Middle East on Thursday, told China Daily.

Beijing opposes any armed intervention in Syria and will work hard to promote peace in the region, Wu said.

Wu's words came as the Friends of Syria conference was held on Friday in Tunisia.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Thursday that China will not attend the conference as further study of the aim, effect and mechanism of the conference is needed.

China and Russia have faced a barrage of criticism for vetoing a UN Security Council resolution condemning the crackdown on protests in Syria.

"China's stance wasn't understood by some countries," the special envoy noted, adding that China would not protect the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and that its priority was to prevent further violence.

Wu said the Arab people's will for reform should be respected, and China opposes any foreign intervention.

Wu visited Israel, Palestine and Jordan from Feb 19 to 23. He said that all the parties he visited were worried about the unrest in Syria.

They fear that what happened in Libya will also happen in Syria, and negatively affect peace and stability in the region, Wu said.

The envoy said he had expounded China's position with the leaders he met during his tour.

China urges the Syrian government and all of its political parties to end all acts of violence, Wu said.

China will continue to support the pursuit of a solution to the Syrian crisis within the framework of the Arab League and looks forward to progress in this area, said the Chinese official.

Beijing supports any action that is conducive to ceasing violence, boosting political dialogue and maintaining peace and stability in the Middle East.

Wu also met Middle East peace Quartet envoy Tony Blair in London about the Middle East peace process.

Wu noted that all parties were looking forward to the resumption of direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis.

The aim of Wu's visit was also to voice China's concern about the peace process and learn more about the two sides' further arrangements and considerations.

Wu urged the international community to pay more attention and push for peace between Palestine and Israel even under the background of uncertainty in the Middle East.

US, Europe and Arab countries set to back proposal to end brutal crackdown

TUNIS, Tunisia - The United States, Europe and Arab countries were set on Friday to back a proposal for Syria's president to step aside and allow in humanitarian assistance to end a brutal crackdown against opponents.

American, European and Arab officials are meeting in a major international Friends of Syria conference in Tunisia to work out the details for their 72-hour ultimatum to end the violence and allow in aid, which will be backed by punishments that have not been specified.

A draft of the conference's final declaration also states that the Syrian National Council, an umbrella group of opposition organizations, will be recognized as "a legitimate representative of Syrians" and promised additional "practical" support for opposition groups.

"This conference will help the Syrian people, the revolutionaries, I think, they will give us the power as a national council, a political umbrella for the revolution inside Syria and I think they will push the international community to take good steps against the Syrian regime," Haithem al-Maleh, executive director of the Syrian National Council told journalists ahead of the conference.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Friday that China is a friend of Syria as well as other Arabian countries, and has consistently supported the just cause of Arabian countries.

"Beijing supports every effort that contributes to a peaceful and appropriate solution of the Syria crisis, and is willing to play a positive and constructive role with related parties in the process," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing.

Beijing hopes the international community will move to ease the tension in Syria and promote political dialogue to eliminate disputes and sustain peace and stability in the Middle East, Hong said. "China has yet to attend the meeting due to Beijing's incomplete knowledge and study on the meeting's priorities, functions, mechanism and preparation progress."

Former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, was also named to be a joint UN-Arab League envoy to deal with the crisis.

He called on all parties on Friday to cooperate in ending the violence and finding a peaceful solution to the crisis.

Beijing welcomes Annan's role as the UN envoy on Syria, Hong told China Daily at a daily news briefing on Friday.

China hopes the appointment will create momentum for pushing forward political dialogue and a peaceful, appropriate solution to the Syria issue, Hong said.

Alexei Pushkov, a Russian lawmaker, said on Friday after meeting Assad in Damascus that the Syrian president sounded confident and demonstrated no sign he would he step aside. Pushkov warned that arming the Syrian opposition would fuel civil war.

In a statement on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry also called for "an immediate mutual cease-fire" to allow the wounded to be evacuated from Homs, and urged both the government and the opposition to take urgent steps to ease the humanitarian crisis.

AP-China Daily