Last updated: 17 April, 2012

Syrian foreign minister to visit China

Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem will pay a visit to China on Wednesday, Beijing announced, as more civilians were killed in fresh violence in the conflict-torn nation.

Muallem would meet with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, the ministry said in a short statement Tuesday, and is expected to brief Beijing on his nation’s latest efforts to implement a United Nations’ brokered ceasefire.

Xinhua news agency earlier reported that Muallem would be in Beijing on Tuesday.

UN military observers acknowledged on Tuesday that they face a “difficult” job firming up the shaky ceasefire as five civilians were killed in fresh violence as it entered its sixth day.

Colonel Ahmed Himmiche, a Moroccan officer who heads a six-strong advance UN team preparing for the deployment of a 30-strong mission, said the observers would move forward one step at a time.

China has backed the efforts of UN envoy Kofi Annan to bring peace to Syria, after he visited Beijing last month.

Beijing, an ally of Damascus, previously drew international criticism for vetoing two UN Security Council resolutions on the Syria crisis which were critical of President Bashar al-Assad.