China rejects sanctions, pressure to solve Syria crisis
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Foreign Ministry signaled misgivings on Thursday with a French proposal to enforce U.N. envoy Kofi Annan's Syria peace plan, saying it opposed any approach "leaning towards sanctions and pressure".
Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin did not directly answer a question about the French proposal when asked about it at a regular briefing, but appeared not to reject it outright. But he made plain Beijing's reluctance.
"We believe that the international community's actions regarding Syria should be conducive to easing conditions there and conducive to a political solution to the Syrian crisis," Liu said. "China disapproves of the approach of leaning towards sanctions and pressure.
"We believe that in current circumstances, all sides should vigorously support envoy Annan's mediation efforts and urge all sides in Syria to truly implement the U.N. Security Council's resolution and Annan's six-point proposal," Liu said.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Wednesday that France would propose giving the United Nations the power to enforce Annan's plan. He said a no-fly zone was under consideration in what he described as a civil war.
Asked about comments from other governments, including Russia, that they could accept President Bashar al-Assad stepping down, Liu said: "We have stated many times that China does not deliberately favor any side, and Syria's path of development and political system should be determined by the Syrian people."
Russia and China - permanent members of the U.N. Security Council with the power to veto resolutions - have hindered efforts by Western powers to condemn or call for the removal of Assad. The U.N. says Syrian forces have killed at least 10,000 people in more than a year of unrest.
(Reporting by Chris Buckley, Writing by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Ron Popeski)
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