China urges no U.N. action on Syria before probe completed

BEIJING Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:46am EDT

Free Syrian Army fighters prepare to launch a rocket against forces loyal Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Deir al-Zor August 29, 2013. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

Free Syrian Army fighters prepare to launch a rocket against forces loyal Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Deir al-Zor August 29, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Khalil Ashawi

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China said there should be no rush to force U.N. Security Council action against Syria until a probe by U.N. experts into suspected chemical weapons use is complete.

In remarks reported by the official Xinhua news agency on Friday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a telephone call that China fully supported an independent and objective inspection free from outside pressure.

"Before the investigation finds out what really happened, all parties should avoid prejudging the results, and certainly ought not to forcefully push for the Security Council to take action," Wang told Ban, Xinhua reported.

Military force would not help resolve the Syrian issue and only worsen turmoil in the Middle East, Wang said.

"A political resolution is still the only way out," he said.

Wang said in separate conversations with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby that whoever used chemical weapons had to accept responsibility.

Calm and restraint were also needed, Wang said.

"Taking unilateral action will make it hard to resolve the issue, and its legality will attract doubts," he said.

"All sides should be urging peace and pushing for talks."

U.S. officials acknowledged on Thursday they lacked conclusive evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad personally ordered last week's poison gas attack, and some allies have warned that military action without U.N. Security Council authorization risks making the situation worse.

On Thursday, the British parliament voted against joining any military action against Syria, dealing a setback to U.S.-led efforts to punish Damascus.

French President Francois Hollande said the British vote would not affect France's will to act to punish Assad's government for the apparent chemical weapons attack. {ID:nL6N0GV1H1]

In a call with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Wang said determining the facts was a precondition for taking action.

"It must not only be ascertained if chemical weapons were used, but even more important is determining who used them," Wang was cited as saying in a brief statement on the Foreign Ministry's website.

Fabius said last week that the international community would need to respond with force if allegations that Assad's forces were behind the chemical attack proved true.

Moscow and Beijing have both vetoed previous Western efforts to impose U.N. penalties on Assad's government.

China also has been keen to show it is not taking sides and has urged the Syrian government to talk to the opposition and take steps to meet demands for political change. It has said a transitional government should be formed.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina; Additional reporting by Jonathan Standing and Pete Sweeney in SHANGHAI; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Comments (1)
MikeBarnett wrote:
The Chinese view is correct. The US wants to conduct an execution before learning guilt or innocence. Bomb someone first and have the trial later as in Iraq.

China wants to examine and test the evidence before taking action. This might save America and the world from another Iraq.

Aug 30, 2013 5:37pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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