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Chinese envoy says Syrian sovereignty must be respected

Days after vetoing the UN Security Council's draft resolution on Syria, China asks the international community to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its Arab ally

AFP, Saturday 18 Feb 2012
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Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun said the international community must respect Syria's sovereignty after Damascus talks late on Friday with his counterpart Faisal Meqdad, state media reported.

"We exchanged views on ways to strengthen our cooperation in the face of this difficult period in Syria," said Zhai, whose government has twice joined Moscow in blocking UN Security Council condemnation of the Damascus regime's deadly crackdown on an 11-month uprising.

"The sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity of Syria must be respected by all sides and by the international community," the official Syrian Arab News Agency quoted him as saying.

"China hopes that national dialogue and reforms will move forward in Syria," he added.

On Thursday, before heading to Damascus, Zhai said Beijing opposed armed intervention and forced "regime change" in Syria.

China and Russia have faced a barrage of criticism for blocking action by the UN Security Council, including from Arab nations with which Beijing normally has good ties.

"We urge the Syrian government and all of its political parties to immediately and fully end all acts of violence and quickly restore stability and normal social order," said Zhai.

"China condemns all acts of violence against innocent civilians" and "does not approve of armed intervention or forcing so-called 'regime change'," he was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.

Foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told reporters Zhai would "exchange views with the Syrian government and parties concerned in Syria on the current... situation to push for a peaceful and proper resolution of the... crisis."

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