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Syria envoy praises China ahead of Beijing talks

A Syrian envoy in Beijing for talks praises the attitude of Russia and China which have used their veto to hinder three UN resolutions calling for more action to stop violence in the war-torn state

AFP , Thursday 16 Aug 2012
Syrian government envoy Bouthaina Shaaban (L) shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing August 16, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)
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A Syrian envoy in Beijing for talks has praised the attitude of China and Russia to the conflict ravaging her country, contrasting it with that of Western powers, in comments published Thursday.

Bouthaina Shaaban told the state-run China Daily newspaper Syria was happy to deal with Beijing and Moscow, which have used their veto to scupper three UN resolutions calling for more action to stop the violence in Syria.

Her visit to China comes as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation said it was suspending Syria, underscoring the growing isolation of President Bashar al-Assad's embattled regime.

"We're happy to see countries like China and Russia, who are not colonisers or deal with people like colonisers," said Shaaban, a special adviser to Assad.

This is "a very different stance from the West," she told the newspaper ahead of a meeting with China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi later Thursday.

The decision by China and Russia to veto UN Security Council resolutions on Syria has put them at loggerheads with fellow permanent members the United States, Britain and France.

The People's Daily, mouthpiece of the governing Communist Party, said Wednesday that China would press for a "political solution" to the crisis in Syria during Shaaban's visit, few details of which have been released.

The United States has urged Beijing to use its influence on the embattled regime in Damascus to press for an end to the bloodshed, with the 17-month conflict showing no signs of abating.

Western nations have sought to pressure Syria to implement a six-point peace plan drafted by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, who resigned earlier this month in the face of continued violence and a deadlock among world powers.

But Beijing, which has said it would be open to meeting Syria's opposition, is deeply uncomfortable with what it sees as Western intervention in other countries' internal affairs.

China and Russia have accused the West of prolonging the conflict by backing the opposition.

This "prevented the international community from reaching a consensus and Annan's mediation efforts from taking effect," said the People's Daily on Wednesday.

Shaaban, who arrived on Tuesday, slammed Western nations for supplying arms and money to "people who are inciting the civil war in Syria" and imposing sanctions that hurt the health sector and civilians.

She also dismissed the opposition as armed groups, kidnappers and tools of foreign powers that refused to engage in dialogue with the government.

And she denied that Syria was blocking international aid groups from entering the country, saying instead they had not offered any supplies despite requests from the government.

More than 23,000 people have died in the conflict, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates, while the UN says another million people have been displaced and 140,000 have fled to neighbouring countries.

China's foreign ministry did not respond to requests for information about her visit, and the Syrian embassy did not provide details.

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