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China hails US-Russia deal
Publication Date : 16-09-2013
China welcomes the Russian-US agreement on the disposal of Syria's chemical weapons and called for simultaneous efforts from all parties to bring about a political resolution, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday.
"The agreement has eased the tension in Syria and opened the door for a peaceful resolution of the crisis," Wang said in a meeting with his visiting French counterpart Laurent Fabius in Beijing.
Speaking positively about Syria's decision to join the United Nations Chemical Weapons Convention, Wang said the UN Security Council should play an important role in the process.
"The investigation, meanwhile, carried out by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, should be neutral, objective, fair and professional," he said.
Wang also called for an immediate end to fighting in Syria to create the necessary conditions for the second international conference on the Syrian issue in Geneva.
The US-Russian agreement was reached in Geneva on Saturday after three days of talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The pact requires the Assad administration to account for its chemical weapons arsenal within a week and bring it under international control by mid-2014. It stipulates sanctions if Damascus fails to comply, although details are not given.
Calling the Russia-US agreement an important and positive development, Fabius urged all parties involved, especially the UN, to seize the opportunity to promote a political solution, adding that France will strengthen communication and coordination with China.
Analysts said Fabius' visit indicated a growing expectation on the part of the international community that China will play a greater role in finding a peaceful solution to the crisis.
"The international community is paying increasing attention to China's stance and response to the development of the Syrian crisis, which is one of the reasons behind Fabius' visit," said Dong Manyuan, deputy director of the China Institute of International Studies.
"China's position has been consistent and has positively pushed forward the development of the issue toward a peaceful solution," Dong said.
"Although many difficulties still exist in the political resolution of the issue, China is determined to push for a peaceful settlement and the exclusion of any military threat," he added.
Fabius will meet Kerry and British Foreign Secretary William Hague in Paris on Monday to discuss the content and implementation of the agreement.
Qu Xing, president of the China Institute of International Studies, said the agreement is a major step forward and it is in the interests of both Washington and Moscow.
"The US is saved from an embarrassing situation because the proposal of the military attack on Syria is facing mounting objections. Russia, on the other hand, wants to protect its strategic interests in the area," Qu said.
The UN is also expected to release its report on Syria's chemical weapons as early as Monday. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said it would be "an overwhelming report that chemical weapons were used" in Syria, but he did not comment on who was to blame for the August 21 attack.
"So far, China's position on Syria has been in line with Russia's. Meetings in the coming days, including Fabius's visit to China, will indicate if Beijing is able to take a leading role in finding a solution," said Alice Ekman, China analyst at the French Institute for International Relations.
Agreement tough to implement
The US-Russian deal brokered on Saturday to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons will be difficult if not impossible to implement, experts said, not least because of the quandary of their destruction.
The landmark deal thrashed out in Geneva gives Syria a week to hand over details of the government's stockpile, which it aims to destroy by mid-2014 to avert US-led military strikes.
But chemical weapons expert Jean Pascal Zanders said that timetable is irrelevant because decision-making now passes to the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
"The Executive Council has sovereign decision-making, and the US and Russia just have one vote each among the 41 members, so I wouldn't be surprised if we don't have consensus decision-making," Zanders said.
With reports from AFP and Zhang Fan