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Beijing "open" to conference on Syria

06-26-2012 09:29 BJT

China is "positive and open" toward a proposed international conference on the Syrian conflict in Geneva on Saturday, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, as countries called for restraint over Syria's downing of a Turkish jet.

China is communicating with relevant parties over the proposed conference, initiated by UN-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan, and has sent officials to attend a preparatory meeting, Hong said on Monday.

"We hope that the conference will help to build an international consensus and give full support to Annan's mediation efforts to implement relevant UN Security Council resolutions and Annan's six-point proposal, easing current tensions and creating conditions for political dialogue," Hong said.

China believes that to end the violence in Syria will require participation and support from countries in the region, particularly those that have an influence on relevant parties in Syria, Hong said.

Annan said on Friday that he is working to convene a "contact group" meeting on Syria with ministers from "countries with influence" to discuss further measures and actions to ensure the implementation of his plan.

Though Russia supports Iran's involvement in the meeting, the US vehemently opposes it, The Associated Press reported.

At the meeting, Western countries may propose to implement Annan's plan with military force, but Russia will maintain its opposition against military power, said Dong Manyuan, deputy director of the China Institute of International Studies.

Western countries want to break the Syria-Iran alliance, a big obstacle for them in the Middle East, by overthrowing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Dong said.

"If Western countries steer clear of the UN and begin a military attack, the situation in Syria will become more complicated," he added.

Hong also urged Turkey and Syria to remain calm and restrained over Syria's downing of a Turkish military jet.

Hong said the current situation in Syria is complicated and sensitive, and all relevant parties should exercise restraint and handle the incident through diplomatic channels to avoid escalating tensions.

The Turkish jet crashed into the Mediterranean Sea on Friday after being shot down by Syria, the Turkish premier's office said in a statement on Saturday.

According to a report by Xinhua News Agency, Syria said the fighter jet was shot down after entering Syrian airspace. The Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Sunday that the jet was in international airspace at the time.

"This plane was not carrying arms and was on a routine flight ... there was no prior warning ... this is completely unacceptable," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Monday was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the attack "brazen and unacceptable" and said Washington would cooperate closely with Ankara to promote a transition in Syria.

Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers on Monday called for a calm response to the dispute and more pressure on Assad.

"We will be obviously looking to Turkey to be restrained in its response," EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton was quoted by Reuters as saying, adding that the EU is very concerned about the incident and the families of the two pilots.

Saying the jet incident did not fundamentally alter the situation in Syria, British Foreign Secretary William Hague urged increased pressure on Assad.

"The incident creates a good excuse for the Western allies to conduct military intervention," said Wang Jinglie, an expert on Middle Eastern studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Wang warned that leadership change in Syria might intensify religious conflicts in the region, which will not benefit Western countries.

Editor:Sun Luying |Source: China Daily

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