Tuesday, January 21, 2014, 08:58
China urges dialogue to resolve Syrian issue
By Zhao Yanrong

China called for all relevant parties on Monday to resolve conflicts in Syria through dialogue, after the political opposition threatened to withdraw from international peace talks.

Syria's main opposition group in exile, the Syrian National Coalition, said in Istanbul that it will suspend its participation in the Geneva 2 conference, set to start on Wednesday in Switzerland, unless the United Nations rescinds its invitation to Iran, or Iran accepts the Geneva I communique, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi will leave Beijing on Wednesday for the peace conference.

"A political solution through dialogue and the consensus of the international community is the only correct path," Wang said. "The parties should stick to that."

Wang outlined five principles necessary for political settlement, including the basic requirement that the crisis be resolved through political means; that the future of Syria must be decided by its own people; and that humanitarian assistance must be delivered in Syria, as well as in neighboring countries.

Wang said the three-year conflict is very complicated and not amenable to a military solution.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei echoed Wang's approach.

"China urges all relevant parities to participate actively in the conference and hopes that all countries and regions will be involved in a constructive way in reaching a political settlement," Hong said.

"Minister Wang Yi's attendance at the meeting is an opportunity to resolve the Syrian issue by political means," Hong said. "China expects all parties to commit and substantially start the process of political settlement, to give a peaceful homeland back to the Syrian people."

Wu Sike, China's special envoy to the Middle East, said that the resolution of the matter of chemical weapons in Syria will have a positive impact on framing the dialogue between the Syrian government and opposition groups.

"Political settlement cannot be accomplished in one step," Wu said. "It's not easy to start the dialogue, and agreements are not easy to achieve. But the communication must be initiated and pushed further."

Hua Liming, a former Chinese ambassador to Iran, said China maintains good relations with both the Syrian government and opponents, so China will be able to mediate effectively between the two groups.

"China has always insisted on a political settlement of the Syrian issue, and that the future of Syria must be decided by its own people," Hua said. "Other approaches were raised by Western countries in the past, but they did not work out."

Zhao Shengnan contributed to this story.