China refuses to endorse Arab League moves on Syria

AFP, Monday 13 Feb 2012

Beijing calls on Arab League to continue mediation efforts aimed at finding solution to Syria violence but stops short of endorsing league proposal to send Arab peacekeeping force to the troubled country

China Monday urged the Arab League to continue its "political mediation" on Syria but rejected the bloc's proposal to send a UN-Arab peacekeeping force to the violence-hit nation.

The Arab League said Sunday it would open contacts with Syria's opposition and offer full financial support, as well as ask the United Nations to form a joint peacekeeping force – moves swiftly denounced by Damascus.

"China calls on and supports the Arab League to continue its political mediation efforts," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said when asked about the peacekeeping proposal.

"We believe the United Nations, based on the principles and purposes of the UN Charter and relevant norms governing international relations, should provide constructive help" for "the peaceful and proper resolution of the Syrian issue."

Pressed further, Liu said any "UN action should be conducive to easing tension in Syria, conducive to political dialogue and resolving disputes... instead of making the issue more complicated."

China and Russia drew international ire earlier this month for blocking a UN Security Council resolution condemning the crackdown in Syria.

Since then, China has held talks with the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change (NCB) – one of the main opposition factions in Syria – in Beijing.

The group, however, opposes foreign military intervention in the Syrian conflict – in line with China's longstanding policy of non-interference in other nations' internal affairs.

Beijing has also said it is considering sending envoys to the Middle East to help resolve the conflict, after Russia sent its top diplomat Sergei Lavrov to Damascus.

Liu did not express support for the Arab League's offer of financial support to Syria's opposition.

"China's position is that all parties of Syria, including authorities and opposition groups, should properly solve their disputes through dialogue and launch an inclusive political process as soon as possible," he said.

"China will support the actions of the international community that are compatible with China's positions."

More than 6,000 people have died in nearly a year of upheaval in Syria, as the Bashar Al-Assad regime seeks to snuff out an armed insurgency that initially began with peaceful protests in March 2011 amid the Arab Spring.

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