Tue, March 27, 2012
China > China & World

China unlikely to attend Syria meeting

2012-03-27 02:36:17 GMT2012-03-27 10:36:17(Beijing Time)  China Daily

A Syrian boy cries in a Red Crescent refugee camp in Boynuyogun village, in Hatay region, Turkey, on Sunday. The Boynuyogun camp houses some 2,000 Syrian refugees in 600 tents. [Photo/Agencies]

China is unlikely to attend the second "Friends of Syria" meeting scheduled to convene in Istanbul in April, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

China received an invitation to the meeting, but due to the current situation, did not consider attending it, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news conference on Monday.

"We think actions taken by the international community with regard to Syria should help ease the situation there, promote political dialogue, resolve disputes and maintain peace and stability in the Middle East," Hong said.

The resolution of the Syrian issue requires the participation of, and dialogue between, the major parties involved, and the international community should create favorable conditions for that, he said.

China will continue to work with all sides and play an active and constructive role in finding a peaceful and proper resolution to the Syrian issue, the spokesman added.

The first "Friends of Syria" meeting was held in Tunisia on Feb 24. The Syrian authorities and some opposition parties were not invited. China was invited but did not attend.

The West-backed meetings aim to solidify the opposition parties and call for more support from the international community for the opposition parties by increasing pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said Li Guofu, director of Middle East studies at the China Institute of International Studies.

"The meeting is not a positive response to Kofi Annan, the UN-Arab League envoy," he said.

Annan is due in China on Tuesday to brief leaders about his proposal to end violence in the country. He will meet Chinese leaders and Foreign Ministry officials during his two-day visit, according to Hong.

Annan's proposal calls for an immediate cease-fire in Syria and political dialogue between the authority and opposition parties.

"China values and supports the mediation efforts of Annan and hopes this visit will allow in-depth discussions on a political resolution of the Syrian issue," Hong said.

"Annan will probably gain a better understanding of how supportive the Chinese are (for his plan)," Joshua Eisenman, senior fellow in China studies at the Washington-based American Foreign Policy Council, told AFP.

China would strengthen coordination with the UN and Arab League on the Syria issue through Annan's visit, said Li. "But the problem is that the opposition parties are reluctant to accept Annan's proposals of a political resolution."

China unveiled its six-point proposition earlier on the political settlement of the Syria issue. It backed a UN Security Council peace plan for Syria, with Russia, which was put forward by Annan last week.

US President Barack Obama said on Monday that he and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, agreed to support diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed in Syria and ensure a "legitimate" government there.

There had been disagreements over the past few months between the US and Russia, but both agreed "we should be supportive of Kofi Annan's efforts to end some of the bloodshed that is taking place in Syria", and that the goal was to have a "legitimate" government in Damascus, Obama told reporters after a meeting between the two leaders in Seoul ahead of the 2012 nuclear summit.

Before flying to Seoul, Medvedev told Annan that he appreciated his efforts, calling it the last chance for peace.

"This may be the last chance for Syria to avoid a long-lasting and bloody civil war. Therefore, we will offer you our full support at any level and in various ways in those areas, of course, in which Russia is capable of providing support," he said.

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