Peace envoy urges China to help resolve crisis in Syria

Lakhdar Brahimi meets foreign minister, but analysts don't expect China to abandon its non-intervention stand over the Middle East country

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 November, 2012, 4:36am

UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi yesterday urged greater involvement by China in a bid to end the violence in Syria as he met Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Beijing.

The talks were held as Syrian warplanes pounded rebel-controlled areas east of Damascus, where fighting has raged for months. At least five raids were carried out in the capital's eastern suburbs and 30 civilians were killed amid the bombing and fighting, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Brahimi said he hoped "China can play an active role in solving the events in Syria", without elaborating further.

The situation in the Middle Eastern country has been escalating since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad erupted in March of last year. Opposition activists say about 35,000 people have been killed.

Yang said that he hoped the discussion with Brahimi would promote mutual understanding and "the appropriate handling of the Syrian issue".

Brahimi's meeting, which came at the end of a two-day visit, was his third with Yang in two months. In talks held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York last month, Yang reaffirmed China's position that a political dialogue was the only solution to the crisis.

Some mainland analysts said China was unlikely to take a more significant role over Syria because of its long-held opposition to outside meddling in its own affairs. Beijing is also wary of another Western-led military invention like the Nato action that led to Muammar Gaddafi's downfall in Libya last year.

China and Russia caused an international outcry in July when they vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for more sanctions against Assad's regime.

"China will not abandon its non-foreign-intervention policy principle just because an envoy is visiting and will not abandon the united front with Russia," said Pang Zhongying , a professor of international relations at Renmin University.

Brahimi's visit followed one to Russia. In Moscow on Monday he warned that the conflict was deteriorating. He is expected to present new proposals for ending the fighting to the UN Security Council soon.

Li Weijian , director of Middle Eastern studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said Beijing would push for a political solution while attempting to narrow the international differences over how to end the violence.

"Beijing can help Brahimi get international support in calling for a political solution," Li said. "Beijing will also step up communication with other countries, such as the United States and Russia, and other parties, including Syria's opposition groups."

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse