China lobbies Arabs, West for Syrian cease-fire | News | DW | 09.03.2012
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China lobbies Arabs, West for Syrian cease-fire

China is to send a new envoy to Arab countries and France to lobby for a cease-fire in Syria, while still opposing foreign intervention. Meanwhile, the UN's humanitarian chief is visiting Syrian refugees in Turkey.

China said Friday it would send another diplomat to the Middle East and France to explain its proposal for a cease-fire in Syria, as fighting in the country between army deserters and forces loyal to the government continued.

Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Ming is to visit Saudi Arabia and Egypt from March 10 to 14, then France from March 14 to 16 to "exchange views on the Syria issue" and "push for a just and appropriate resolution," a ministry spokesman told reporters in Beijing.

China and Russia have twice vetoed UN Security Council resolutions attempting to end the crackdown on Syrian dissidents that has raged for a full year and has killed more than 7,500 civilians, according to the UN.

It continues to oppose foreign intervention in Syria, and has warned other countries not to use humanitarian aid as an excuse to "interfere" in Syria's domestic affairs. However it recently proposed an immediate cease-fire and talks between all parties, a proposal the Syrian opposition has rejected.

Deserters battle government forces

In the latest violence in Syria on Friday, army deserters clashed with government troops in the central province of Homs, according to Lebanon-based Syrian activist Abu Imad.

Watch video 01:50

UN humanitarian chief tours Syria

"Heavy clashes were raging at the outskirts of the Rastan and al-Kussair areas between members of the opposition Free Syrian Army and government troops," he said, adding that black smoke rising from the targeted areas was visible from the northern Lebanese border.

Meanwhile UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos continued her visit to the region in Turkey, where thousands of Syrian refugees have fled since the anti-government uprising began. Amos briefly visited the hard-hit district of Baba Amr in the city of Homs on Thursday, saying she was "devastated" by the destruction. Syrian forces bombarded the district for 26 straight days before rebels withdrew a week ago.

Amos was due to meet Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara later on Friday. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was also to visit Syria on Saturday as a special representative of the UN and the Arab League.

"The killing has to stop and we need to find a way of putting in the appropriate reforms and moving forward," Annan said ahead of his visit.

acb/slk (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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