Wed, Feb 15, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Scolded China takes Syria diplomacy to Arab League

Reuters, BEIJING

A Chinese envoy met the head of the Arab League to discuss Syria, as Beijing seeks to limit the diplomatic damage from its veto of a UN resolution on the country which has ignited Western and Arab anger.

China, along with Russia, early this month blocked a draft UN Security Council resolution that backed an Arab plan urging Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to quit amid his government’s violent crackdown on opposition groups.

The Chinese foreign ministry yesterday said its envoy, Li Huaxin (李華新), had an “extremely frank and useful” exchange on Syria on Monday when he met Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby in Cairo.

China has insisted its veto did not amount to supporting al-Assad and was only taken to try and prevent the situation worsening.

However, Elaraby has previously said that the veto had cost China and Russia diplomatic credit in the Arab world and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah called the veto an “unfavorable” move.

In Libya, protesters hurled rocks at the Chinese embassy.

“China and Arab countries have a very traditional friendship and cooperative relationship and maintain close communication and coordination on political affairs,” Li said, according to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement on its Web site.

“Given the constantly escalating Syrian situation, the purpose of this visit to Cairo was to explain China’s position and policies to the Arab League and Arab countries and listen to their opinions,” Li said.

The Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday in Beijing that it backed Arab League mediation in Syria, but offered no clear sign of support for its call to send in peacekeepers to halt the Syrian government’s violent crackdown on opposition groups.

China’s top diplomat Dai Bingguo (戴秉國) defended Beijing’s handling of the Syrian crisis in a telephone call with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday ahead of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) trip to the US, saying the Syrian problem was essentially an internal one.

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