Syrian opposition delegation begins China visit

Beijing, Sep 10 (IANS) A six-member delegation of the opposition Syrian National Dialogue Forum has started its visit to China at the invitation of the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei confirmed Tuesday.

During their stay, senior officials of the Chinese foreign ministry will meet and exchange views with them, Xinhua quoted Hong as saying at a daily news briefing.

"China has been engaged in mediation efforts with all parties involved in the Syrian issue in an active and balanced way, making unremitting endeavours to push for a political solution," Hong said.

China has always maintained that a political solution is the only realistic way out for the Syrian issue. It should be firmly adhered to, especially under the current situation, Hong said.

The spokesman also said China welcomed the Russian proposal to push Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control and called on the international community to "actively consider" the suggestion.

"As long as the proposals are conducive to easing the current tensions in Syria and achieving a political solution as well as peace and stability in Syria and the region, the international community should actively consider them," Hong said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke Monday about the proposal hoping such a move would help avert a possible US strike against the Arab country.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem welcomed the Russian proposition.

US President Barack Obama said Monday that the Russian proposal is "potentially a positive development", and he would prefer to have a diplomatic solution to the crisis rather than launch a military attack.

"We are firmly opposed to resorting to force in international relations. Unilateral military action is against the purposes and principles in the UN Charter and will put the region in turmoil," Hong said, calling for relevant parties to think twice before using military tools.

As to allegations that some chemical missiles in Syria came from Russia, Iran and China, Hong stressed China's signatory status to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

China strictly fufills the obligations in the treaty, including submitting all declarations to the Organistion for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and accepts inspections, Hong said.

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