China refuses to back more pressure on Syria

AFP , Friday 8 Jun 2012

China condemns the latest killings in Syria, but rejects the call by UN/Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan to reduce pressures on the regime as he fears the crisis would 'spiral out of control'

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, right, listens as China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Min, the current president of the U.N. Security Council, speaks during a press conference on Thursday, June 7, 2012. (Photo: AP)

China on Friday condemned the latest civilian killings in Syria, but refused to back a call by UN/Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan to increase the pressure on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Annan told the UN Security Council Thursday he feared the crisis would "spiral out of control" unless there is more international pressure on Assad.

His remarks came after the reported killing of dozens of civilians by pro-regime militiamen in the village of Al-Kubeir, the second massacre in a fortnight, and the targeting of UN monitors trying to reach the scene.

Foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin was asked repeatedly whether China supported Annan's call at a briefing on Friday, but did not directly answer the question.

"China is concerned over the developments in Syria," Liu said.

"China strongly condemns the brutal act of civilian casualties, especially those targeted at women and children. We hope the perpetrators will be brought to justice at an early date."

China has repeatedly said it opposes foreign intervention and forced regime change in Syria, and has urged both sides in the conflict to implement Annan's peace plan.

Annan earlier told the 193-nation General Assembly that it was time to threaten "clear consequences" if Assad does not comply with the peace plan, expressing horror at the latest massacre -- in the village of Al-Kubeir.

He called for stronger international action to back his peace plan, which includes demands for Assad to pull troops and guns out of cities and halt violence so that political talks can start.
But a cessation of hostilities that officially started on April 12 has now all but collapsed.

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