Political negotiations necessary for Syria: China

Updated: 2013-03-16 08:06

By Zhao Shengnan (China Daily)

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The military deadlock between the Syrian government and opposition proves that a political solution is the only "realistic" way to resolve the crisis, Chinese Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhai Jun said in the run-up to the second anniversary of the start of the conflict.

Despite growing calls for a political resolution, the two sides have not found a proper way to work it out, Zhai said in an interview during the annual session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's top political advisory body.

Political negotiations necessary for Syria: China

Syrian children living in Amman take part in a candlelit vigil at the Citadel in the Jordanian capital on Thursday to mark the second anniversary of the Syrian civil war. Raad Adayleh / Associated Press

Zhai, who visited Syria as China's special envoy in February 2012, urged the international community to help push for early negotiations on the roadmap for political transition in Syria, instead of "supporting one side to fight against the other side" or "worsening and endlessly extending the conflict".

The crisis, which began on March 15, 2011, has created irreparable divisions among ethnic and religious groups in Syria, Zhai said.

His remarks followed a pledge by US Secretary of State John Kerry to provide the Syrian opposition with $60 million in aid, during an international meeting on Syria in Rome last month. The non-lethal assistance will include the delivery of food and medical supplies directly to the opposition for the first time.

Paris announced on Thursday that France and Britain are ready to arm the Syrian opposition even without the unanimous support of the European Union. The two countries will call for moving up the date of the next EU meeting on the Syrian arms embargo.

"We hope whatever the Western countries would do will help lead Syria's development in a positive direction, and we also hope they will work together with China to continue implementing the Geneva Communique issued by the Action Group for Syria," Zhai said.

Political negotiations necessary for Syria: China 

"Military action is not a solution, and even if it were the solution, the people of Syria would suffer most", he said. A political resolution would cause less suffering, he added, "though it would cost more time".

Syria has been wracked by violence since the uprising began. As many as 70,000 people have died, more than 1 million have fled to neighboring countries, and 2 million have been internally displaced, according to the United Nations.

Zhai admitted it is still not easy to start political talks because neither side is willing to compromise enough, and a number of opposition forces inside or outside Syria, armed or not, are unable to attain a unified stance.

"The opposition's policies have become increasingly flexible, but they have not been flexible enough to start a political dialogue with the government at the moment," he said.

The opposition demands that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down before negotiations can be held. Damascus said the opposition should not be making any preconditions for talks.

China has been maintaining communication with the concerned parties, and it believes Beijing's four-point proposal for tackling the Syrian crisis, region by region and stage by stage, still holds potential, Zhai said.

"Nobody has opposed the principles raised by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in October. We hope relevant parties could make efforts in the same direction," he said.