Sat, April 21, 2012
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Beijing offers to send observers to Syria

2012-04-21 07:19:18 GMT2012-04-21 15:19:18(Beijing Time)  China Daily

Supporters loyal to the Future movement and Jamaa Islamiyyah use the Syrian flag as a prayer mat. They demonstrated against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad following Friday prayers in Beirut's Tariq al-Jadideh, a Sunni Muslim neighborhood, on Friday. [Joseph Eid / Agence France-Presse]

Beijing has offered to send observers to take part in the United Nations' monitoring mission of the cease-fire in Syria.

China supported the UN's decision to send 300 observers and an advance team of 30 truce monitors to Syria, and is willing to send personnel to assist the mission, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a news briefing on Friday.

"China is liaising with the UN Secretariat over details of the arrangement," said Liu, who did not say how many observers China would send.

The statement reflected a development from Thursday, when Liu had said the move was only being considered.

The monitoring mission and the peace plan promoted by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan is the only existing channel to curb the Syrian crisis, and China is expected to be part of the observer team, analysts said.

"China has been a frequent supporter of the UN's peacekeeping missions. The Chinese participation as observers serves as further support to Annan and will bring Beijing more information when analyzing the developing situation," said Zhang Xiaodong, secretary-general of the China Association for Middle Eastern Studies.

On Friday, Syrian troops shelled a rebel-held neighborhood and sent reinforcements to border areas after the opposition called for fresh protests.

Kofi Annan's spokesman, Ahmad Fawzi, said on Thursday that Syria and the UN have reached an agreement on the rules governing the advance team of truce monitors.

The agreement covers how a team of up to 300 observers will "monitor and support a cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties" and implement Annan's six-point peace plan.

Beijing welcomed the progress achieved between Annan and the Syrian government on deploying observers.

"China endorses any effort that may bring the parties in Syria to sustainable cessation of violence, and to initiate political talks. China hopes Syria can get back to order and stability as soon as possible," Liu, the ministry spokesman, said.

A cease-fire brokered by Annan has been in place since last week. The UN Security Council approved, in a resolution on April 14, the dispatch of an advance team of 30 observers to Syria.

Seven unarmed UN observers are already in Syria monitoring the week-old truce, with two more to follow on Monday. The full advance team of 30 is due to be deployed in the coming week, Fawzi said on Friday.

The cease-fire is "very fragile" and the situation on the ground is "not good", with incidents and casualties reported every day, Fawzi said.

More than 9,000 people have died since an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began 13 months ago.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday pressed the UN Security Council to quickly approve the 300-member cease-fire monitoring mission in Syria, but also acknowledged that it involved risks.

Fawzi said preparations are already under way for the arrival of the larger contingent, whose deployment he hoped the UN Security Council would approve within the next three days.

Beijing on Friday also called for the early dispatch of the 300 observers.


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