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Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping repeats call for political solution to end Syrian civil war

President does not mention Assad election win which the US labelled a 'disgrace'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 June, 2014, 9:33pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 June, 2014, 10:42pm

President Xi Jinping yesterday repeated a call for a political resolution to the Syrian crisis via a transitional government, and offered to boost aid for refugees, after Bashar al-Assad was re-elected Syrian president with 88.7 per cent of the vote.

The poll, where the result was never in doubt, was labelled a farce by rebels fighting to overthrow Assad.

The other candidates in Tuesday's vote - Hassan al-Nuri and Maher al-Hajjar - won 4.3 per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively, parliamentary speaker Mohammad al-Lahham said.

"I congratulate Syria for choosing its chief, who will carry its people to the shores of security and stability," Lahham said.

China and Russia, have both vetoed Western efforts to set UN penalties on Assad, although Beijing has been keen to show it is not taking sides and has urged the Syrian government to talk to the opposition.

It also has called for a transitional government.

"China respects the reasonable demands of the Syrian people, and supports the early adoption of the Geneva communique and the opening of an inclusive political process to bring about a political resolution to the Syrian issue," Xi told a China-Arab forum in Beijing, in a speech broadcast live on state television yesterday.

The first round of Syria peace talks in Geneva in 2012 stipulated the establishment of a transition government, but subsequent peace talks have floundered.

China has met opposition and government delegations, but the diplomacy has had little apparent effect.

Xi made no mention of Syria's presidential vote.

In Damascus, celebratory shots fired by Assad supporters killed at least three people as the results were announced on Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The election was held in only about 40 per cent of Syrian territory controlled by the regime, and among expatriates.

State media had trumpeted a big turnout, and an official said earlier the figure reached 73.42 per cent, or 11.6 million people out of 15.8 million called on to vote.

Pro-government newspaper Al-Watan said millions had voted, "defying terrorism and its mortars, rockets, car bombs and suicide attackers, to prove the legitimacy" of Assad for a third seven-year term.

However, opposition activists were quick to claim people had voted out of fear not conviction.

Earlier, Assad "thanked all the Syrians who turned out en masse to vote".

His office's Facebook page said Syrians "are proving day after day their belief in a culture of life, hope and defiance, in the face of a culture of death, terrorism and narrow-mindedness".

The United States said it was a "disgrace" to hold an election in the midst of a war that has killed more than 162,000 and driven millions from their homes.

Tuesday's election had "intentionally denied millions of Syrians the right to vote", State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

Reuters and Agence France-Presse