Beijing remains impartial on Syria issue: FM

Updated: 2012-02-07 09:41

By Li Lianxing and Cui Haipei (China Daily)

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BEIJING / DAMASCUS - China will not take sides on the Syria issue, and will uphold justice and take a responsible attitude, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said on Monday.

"China is highly concerned about the development of the situation in Syria, and we have always urged the various parties in Syria to cease violence and avoid casualties among innocent civilians," Liu said at a regular news briefing.

The vote on the United Nations resolution was forced despite the serious differences among various parties, he said, emphasizing that such practices do not help maintain the unity and authority of the UN Security Council, nor are they conducive to the proper resolution of the issue.

"Therefore, China voted against the draft resolution," he said.

"As a responsible major power and permanent member of the UN Security Council, China will make concerted efforts with the international community and play a positive and constructive role in settling this issue."

Asked about an accusation made by the US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice that China would have "blood on its hands" over its veto of the resolution, Liu said: "China does not accept such accusations. We uphold objective justice and take a responsible attitude."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on the same day that the Western-Arab draft UN Security Council resolution on Syria made demands of the government and its forces but required little of the opposition.

Speaking after talks with Bahrain's foreign minister, Lavrov said Russia was pressing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government to implement political reforms more swiftly, noting that some of Assad's opponents were using the protest movement in Syria to seek a violent "regime change".

However, he declined to say what message he would take to Assad when he travels to Damascus on Tuesday as an envoy of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Also on Monday, a second explosion in a week ripped through an oil pipeline feeding a main refinery in the city of Homs.

A plume of smoke was seen rising from the site, residents said.

The authorities and opponents of Assad have blamed each other for the explosions.

Regarding civilian casualties, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi, said "mistakes" had been made by the government and those responsible would be held accountable.

"We will be holding everyone, whoever it is, accountable. We have a judicial committee and there are more than 4,000 cases before it," he added.

The Arab League and Syria signed a protocol to supervise the situation in Syria, and the league sent its mission to the country in January.

When Syria agreed to extend the observers' mission for another month, the league suspended its work due to the deteriorating situation and worsening violence.

"From our side, we want to help the mission accomplish its tasks, and we are ready to continue supporting them because we have never stopped our support," Makdissi added.