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China calls for Syria cease-fire

By Zhang Yuwei at the United Nations | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-17 11:10

China called for an early and proper resolution to solve the Syrian issue within the framework of the United Nations, a foreign ministry spokesperson said on Monday prior to the world body's chief announcing the results of the investigation into Syria's use of chemical weapons.

China has called for an immediate ceasefire in Syria to create conditions for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons and an early convening of the second international conference on Syria in Geneva, said Hong Lei, the spokesperson.

Hong's comments were in response to a framework agreement on resolving the issue of Syrian chemical weapons reached by US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Saturday. Both said they will meet on the sidelines of the 68 session of the UN General Assembly in New York next week for talks on Syria.

The agreement is to secure and destroy Syria's chemical weapons by mid-2014 and impose UN penalties if the Bashar al-Assad government fails to comply. Within the agreement, Syria must submit a "comprehensive listing" of its chemical weapons stockpiles within one week, and weapons inspectors must be on the ground in Syria by November.

Hong said China welcomes the signing of the framework agreement and hopes that the agreement will be implemented. A political resolution is the only realistic way to solve the Syrian issue, Hong said, adding that this political process should be pushed forward together with the destruction of the chemical weapons.

"The framework reached between the United States and Russia provides a path for the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons in a transparent, expeditious, and verifiable manner, which could end the threat that these weapons pose not only to the Syrian people, but to the region and the world," said Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, on Monday.

Also on Monday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon briefed the UN Security Council on the report of the UN Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria, which concluded that chemical weapons had been used on a relatively large scale in the Ghouta area of Damascus on August 21st, causing numerous casualties, particularly among civilians.

Ban described the results as "overwhelming and indisputable".

"Eighty-five per cent of the blood samples tested positive for sarin," Ban told reporters after the council briefing.

"A majority of the environmental samples confirmed the use of sarin; a majority of the rockets or rocket fragments recovered were found to be carrying sarin," he said, adding what happened in Syria is a "war crime and a grave violation of the 1925 Protocol and other rules of customary international law".

Xinhua contributed to the story.

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