Last updated: 13 March, 2012

China and Arab League agree on political settlement in Syria

China and Arab countries agree on the need to find a “political solution” to the crisis in Syria, Chinese envoy Zhang Ming said on Tuesday after talks in Cairo with Arab League officials.

“We all recognise that there is great agreement between China and the Arab League for a political solution to the Syrian crisis,” the envoy said after talks at the Cairo headquarters of the 22-member bloc.

He told reporters he was on a mission to discuss a six-point Chinese initiative and talk with Arab officials ways of reaching “international agreement and finding a peace solution” to the Syria violence.

Under pressure from Western powers for twice blocking with Russia resolutions against Syria at the UN Security Council, China unveiled this month a six-point plan, calling for an immediate end to the conflict.

The initiative also calls for dialogue between President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the opposition and rejects foreign interference or “external action for regime change” in Syria.

Last week, China said it would be dispatching envoys to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France to explain its position on Syria.

The West and the Arab world have been piling pressure on Assad’s regime to prevent a year-old uprising from spiralling into all-out civil war.

Beijing and Moscow have drawn heavy criticism for using their veto powers as permanent members of the Security Council to block resolutions condemning the crackdown, because they singled out Assad for blame.

On Monday, China’s UN ambassador Li Baodon insisted there could be no military intervention in Syria and denied that “self-interests” had motivated its veto of the UN Security Council resolutions.

Li also announced $2 million (1.5 million euros) in humanitarian aid for Syria.

His remarks came as the United States and European powers stepped up on Monday pleas to Russia and China to join Security Council action to force Syria’s president to halt deadly attacks on protest cities.

The United Nations now says that more than 8,000 people have been killed in Syria’s year-long violence.