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China urges world to give Annan's Syria plan time
BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Thursday urged the world to give U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan for Syria more time to work, saying there could not be instant solutions to such a complex crisis.
Syrian rebels on Wednesday gave President Bashar al-Assad a 48-hour deadline to comply with an international peace plan otherwise they would renew their battle to overthrow him.
The ultimatum was issued after U.N. observers reported the discovery of 13 bodies bound and shot in eastern Syria, adding to the world outcry over the massacre last week of 108 men, women and children.
"China believes that the situation in Syria currently is certainly very complex and serious," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a daily news briefing.
"But at the same time, we believe that Annan's mediation efforts have been effective and we ought to have even more faith in him and give him more support," he added.
"... It is a problem that has been brewing for quite some time now, and its resolution needs a certain amount of time. I do not think that Annan's mediation efforts will be all plain sailing, and there will be reversals and complications."
The latest violence emphasized how the peace plan drafted by Annan has failed to stem 14 months of bloodshed or bring the Syrian government and opposition to the negotiating table.
Outrage at last Friday's massacre in the town of Houla prompted several Western countries to expel senior Syrian diplomats and to press Russia and China to agree to tougher action by the U.N. Security Council.
Beijing and Moscow have both vetoed two Security Council resolutions calling for tougher action against Damascus, while stressing hopes for a political solution brokered by Annan, the former U.N. Secretary-General.
China has repeatedly voiced fears that more forceful international intervention in Syria could exacerbate the violence, or open the way for Western-led regime change.
Despite the diplomatic deadlock, Annan is pressing on with his mission.
(This version of the story has been corrected to add dropped word in first paragraph)
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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