Syria must move faster to implement reforms: China

 Published: 10/10/2011 8:16:04 PM GMT
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China urged Syria Tuesday to move faster to implement reforms, a week after Beijing infuriated the West by blocking a UN resolution against President Bashar al-Assad's deadly crackdown on protests.

It is the first time that China has veered away from its longstanding policy of non-interference in the affairs of Syria, which has been rocked by anti-government protests and violence since earlier this year.

"We believe the Syrian government should move faster to honour its reform pledges and swiftly start to push forward the inclusive political process with the broad participation of all parties in Syria," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told reporters.

His comments come as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visits Beijing.

Both China and Russia, veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council, blocked the UN resolution last week, drawing strong condemnation from countries such as the United States and Britain.

But on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow and Beijing were ready to propose a new UN resolution on Syria that would condemn violence carried out both by Assad's regime and the opposition.

Liu said the original draft resolution against Syria "threatened to use sanctions".

"We believe this is not conducive to stability in Syria," he added.

Liu said China hoped the UN Security Council would "ease the tensions in Syria and help promote political dialogue", as Syrian opposition forces step up their efforts to unseat the embattled Assad.

"All parties in Syria should actively take part in the process of political settlement," he said.

Washington has renewed calls for Assad to step down immediately amid escalating violence against anti-regime protesters that the United Nations says has left nearly 3,000 people dead.

On Monday, the leader of the opposition Syrian National Council warned that Assad could suffer the fate of other "criminals" if his regime fell.

"If Assad falls without accepting his mistakes, his fate will be the same as those of any other criminal," Burhan Ghalioun told the private Lebanese television network LBCI from Paris.

Syrian dissidents established the national council in Istanbul on August 23 to coordinate the campaign to topple Assad, and formally formed a common front uniting all groups that oppose his regime last week.

On Monday the European Union welcomed the creation of the grouping and urged the world to do the same, as it readied new sanctions against Assad's regime.

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