Xi Jinping warns Barack Obama not to launch strike against Syria

Xi tells Obama a political solution is only option and urges a 'second thought' before any strike

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 September, 2013, 5:12am

President Xi Jinping yesterday told his US counterpart Barack Obama not to resort to military strikes to tackle the crisis in Syria.

Xi's remarks, made at a meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the G20 summit in St Petersburg, are the highest-level comments from China since the Syrian government was accused of using sarin gas to kill over 1,000 of its civilians last month.

"A political solution is the only right way [to address] … the Syrian crisis, and a military strike cannot solve the problem at its root," he was quoted by Xinhua as saying. "We expect certain countries to have a second thought before action."

Obama is using the summit to push for support for a US-led military strike on Syria, calling on nations to uphold international norms against the use of chemical weapons. Speaking after the summit ended, he said the world cannot "stand idly" by on the Syrian crisis. He added he was encouraged by talks with foreign leaders over how to respond to the use of chemical weapons and planned to make his case for action to the American people in a speech on Tuesday.

During their meeting, Xi told Obama that China opposed the use of chemical weapons, but also stressed the international community should commit itself to a second Geneva conference, with the aim of discussing an open political transition in Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier that Moscow might support military action only if it was approved by the UN and if evidence proved chemical weapons had been used.

In remarks that further showed Beijing's opposition to US-led military action, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the UN Security Council needed to play an important role in resolving the Syrian crisis.

The exchange between the two presidents was their second since they met at an informal summit in California in June, during which both sides pledged to build a "new type of major power relationship" .

Xi told Obama Chinese economic development remained healthy, and he was confident the sustainable economic development of China was conducive to Sino-US co-operation.

Additional reporting by Reuters, Associated Press