China sending envoy on Syria to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, France


China said Friday it is sending an envoy to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France to explain its position on Syria, after Beijing called for an end to the year-long conflict in the Middle East country. China unveiled a six-point peace plan last Sunday, calling for an immediate end to the bloody violence and for dialogue between the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition. Foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said the visit by Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Ming would “increase communication and consultations with parties concerned over the political resolution of the Syrian crisis”. It was hoped the talks with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France would “build up consensus and push for a fair, peaceful and proper solution of the Syrian issue”, Liu told a regular briefing.
Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Wednesday that Damascus was ready to cooperate with Beijing’s six-point plan after meeting Chinese envoy Li Huaxin, the country’s former ambassador to Damascus. Damascus was also ready to “cooperate with the envoy of the United Nations” and the Arab League, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, who is due in Syria on Saturday, Muallem said.
Syria’s main opposition alliance has previously ruled out talks while Assad remains in power. Beijing’s proposal rejects foreign interference or “external action for regime change” in Syria but supports the role of the UN Security Council “in strict accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter”. Meanwhile, Russia said Friday it opposed an “unbalanced” UN draft resolution on the Syria crisis because it did not contain a call for a simultaneous halt in violence by the government and rebels.
“We cannot agree with the draft resolution in the form it is being presented in today. The text of the resolution under discussion is unbalanced,” Interfax quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov as saying. “Its main problem is the absence of a simultaneous call on all sides to take practical steps in the context of ceasing fire,” Gatilov was quoted as saying. Gatilov said Russia was receiving reports that the UN Security Council intended to put the US-backed resolution up for a vote at a meeting on Monday. Russia, jointly with China, has vetoed two previous UN Security Council drafts on the nearly year-long Syrian crisis, and Gatilov warned world powers against rushing ahead with a new vote.
“It is unacceptable to tie the adoption of any text with a deadline. The time factor is not the most important thing,” Gatilov said. “The most important thing is to find a text that is realistic, without ambiguity, and aimed at a stable settlement,” he said.