Middle East

China wants 'spirit' of Syria deal followed

BEIJING: China said Wednesday its position on plans for a transition of power in Syria remained firm, and that it wanted the "spirit" of a weekend agreement by world powers to be followed.

The plan for a transition in Syria to end the violence there was agreed Sunday, but divisions emerged immediately with Western countries saying President Bashar Assad should be excluded from a new unity government.

Russia and China insisted then that Syrians must decide how the transition should be carried out, rather than allow others to dictate their fate, and did not rule out Assad remaining in power in some form.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said Wednesday that China's position on the issue was "unchanged".

"China believes that the urgent task is that the spirit of the communique of the action group on the Syrian issue should be implemented," he said.

Liu indicated China may not attend a "Friends of Syria" meeting in Paris on Friday aimed at coordinating Western and Arab efforts to stop the violence in the Middle East country.

"I haven't heard of the information that China will attend the meeting," Liu said, when asked about the gathering, without commenting further.

China did not attend the previous two "Friends of Syria" meetings in Tunis and Istanbul this year.

Russia, a long-time ally of Assad's government, has already said it will not attend the meeting.

Fighting in Syria has intensified in recent weeks as government and opposition forces have received more weapons from their foreign backers.

Monitors say the conflict has killed more than 16,500 people since March last year.





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