China Welcomes Annan Visit

Despite China’s veto of the U.N. resolution that calls on Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to step down, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has announced that China and Syria have agreed to support his plan to resolve the tensions in Syria. The Voice of America reports:

In a sign of how important China sees the ongoing crisis in Syria, one of the country’s top leaders, Premier Wen Jiabao, met with Kofi Annan Tuesday in Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters his government welcomes international efforts to resolve the Syria issue peacefully.

He says China wants to work with the international community to play a constructive and active role for what he called the proper peaceful resolution of the Syria situation. He adds that China supports special envoy Annan’s “good offices” to resolve the situation, but he stopped short of saying whether Beijing fully supports his Syrian peace plan.

Annan came to Beijing from Moscow, where he received the Russian government’s full support for his latest plan, which calls for an immediate U.N.-supervised cease-fire and dialogue between Assad and his critics aimed at political reform.

China has vetoed the UNSC resolution twice because they believe that the violence needs to be resolved through talks. China would not be attending the “Friends of the Syrian People” conference. The Washington Post adds:

The conference in Istanbul comes as Turkey edges closer to setting up a buffer zone in Syria to protect civilians. Turkish officials have long been hesitant about the idea, but now say a surge of refugees from Syria might compel Turkey, preferably with international backing, to establish a buffer zone on Syrian soil to guarantee the security of its own southern border as well as the welfare of civilians fleeing violence.

Chinese analysts said Beijing was unlikely to support the buffer zone proposal, especially if the possibility of Western military action against Syria is not ruled out.

“China will not accept that proposal. But it will not openly oppose it either,” said Wang Lian, a Middle East expert at the School of International Studies at Peking University,

Wu Bingbing, an expert on Arabian issues at Peking University, agreed China would not back a buffer zone, saying it infringed on Syria’s sovereignty.

See also China defends Syria veto via CDT.

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