China defends veto of Syrian resolution

Feb. 6, 2012 at 11:48 PM
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BEIJING, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- China wants all parties to stop the violence in Syria, a spokesman said, defending its veto of a U.N. Security Council resolution on the Middle East nation.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told reporters in Beijing his country supports efforts by the Arab League to facilitate a political settlement in Syria and maintain stability in the region, adding the U.N. Security Council should help ease the tensions, help promote political dialogue and defuse disputes, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Liu said China has taken an active part in the consultations on the draft resolution. However, he said, it was regrettable the co-sponsoring countries of the draft resolution pressed for a vote when parties were still seriously divided.

"In this context, China voted against the draft resolution," Liu said.

The resolution called for the resignation of Syrian President Bashar Assad and condemned Syria's attacks on its anti-government protesters.

Russia joined China in vetoing the resolution Saturday, although the other 13 members of the 15-member Security Council approved it. But it could not be adopted because of the Russian and Chinese vetoes. The two along with the United States, Britain and France are permanent members of the Security Council with veto powers.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called their vetoes "a travesty."

Liu said China will continue to work with the international community and play a positive and constructive role in the proper settlement in Syria.

"We call on all parties in Syria to stop violence, avoid casualties of innocent civilians, restore order in the country as soon as possible, and respect the reasonable request of the Syrian people for reform and safeguarding of their own interests," he said. "This serves the fundamental interests of Syria and its people."

Clayton Dube, executive director of the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California, told Voice of America China's veto follows "a well-established pattern of resisting calls for regime change."

VOA said Liu did not directly respond to questions about the rising death toll in Syria.

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