China / Government

Syrian opposition leader to start 4-day Beijing visit

By LI XIAOKUN (China Daily) Updated: 2016-01-05 07:18

Syrian opposition leader to start 4-day Beijing visit

Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks to members of the Security Council at the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York, Dec 18, 2015. [Photo/Xinhua]

A Syrian opposition leader will begin a four-day visit to China on Tuesday, in Beijing's latest effort to push forward talks between the Syrian government and opposition.

Though China has long been making efforts to promote talks between the parties in Syria, it apparently is the first time that Beijing has announced in advance a visit by a Syrian opposition leader.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi will meet with Alptekin Hocaoglu, president of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, during the opposition leader's stay, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily media briefing on Monday.

She said the leader was invited by the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs.

The visit to Beijing by the coalition leader, who also goes by the name Khaled Khoja, comes after Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem visited China from Dec 23 to 26.

Al-Moallem told reporters after meeting with Wang that the Syrian government was ready to participate in peace talks in Geneva aimed at ending its civil war.

"Our delegation will be ready as soon as we receive a list of the opposition delegation," al-Moallem said, adding that there should be no foreign interference in the talks.

The remarks came after the UN Security Council gave unanimous support in December to a resolution calling for a cease-fire, talks between the Syrian government and opposition beginning in January, creating a unity government and holding elections.

Li Guofu, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said there is still a deep gap between the Syrian government and opposition on the final settlement, but it is good that they are willing to talk under great international pressure.

"China is now serving as a mediator," he said.

Li Shaoxian, an expert of Middle East studies at Ningxia University in Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, said that the diplomatic rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran has added to the difficulties of reaching a final settlement.

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