China joins Assad in calling rebel end to attacks

AP News
Posted: Mar 30, 2012 4:52 AM
China joins Assad in calling rebel end to attacks

China said Friday that rebels fighting in Syria had to commit to talks and stop attacks they have been carrying out, mirroring demands from embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad.

A peace plan put forward by U.N. envoy Kofi Annan includes a call for a full cease-fire, but Assad's condition that there be an express promise from the opposition to stop attacks could complicate Annan's attempts to bring an end to more than a year of violence that the U.N. says has killed more than 9,000 people.

China, which along with Russia has twice vetoed proposed U.N. sanctions over Assad's crackdown, has said it backs Annan's peace plan, but also says there should be no external interference in Syria.

"We'd like to call on Syria's opposition to make responses as soon as possible to create conditions for opening dialogue and stopping violence," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a news conference Friday.

The opposition in Syria has cautiously welcomed Annan's six-point plan but is skeptical that Assad will carry it out, believing he has accepted it just to win time while his forces continue their bloody campaign to crush the uprising. Armed rebels are unlikely to stop fighting unless offensives by security forces halt.

China and Russia say they opposed the proposed U.N. resolutions because there were unbalanced, saying they blamed only the Syrian government and demanded an end to government attacks, but not ones by the opposition.