China welcomes Russia-U.S. accord on Syria chemical weapons

BEIJING Sun Sep 15, 2013 1:09am EDT

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi addresses the opening session of the ASEAN -China Foreign Ministers meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing August 29, 2013. REUTERS/Adrian Bradshaw/Pool

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi addresses the opening session of the ASEAN -China Foreign Ministers meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing August 29, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Adrian Bradshaw/Pool

BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Sunday welcomed a deal reached by the United States and Russia to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons arsenal, saying it would help promote a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

After three days of talks in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday demanded Syrian President Bashar al-Assad account for his secret stockpile within a week and let international inspectors eliminate all the weapons by the middle of next year.

"We believe that this framework agreement has ameliorated the present explosive and tense situation in Syria and has opened a new perspective on using peaceful methods to resolve the Syrian chemical weapons issue," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his visiting French counterpart, Laurent Fabius.

"China upholds the finding of an appropriate resolution to the Syrian issue, including that of the chemical weapons, under the framework of the United Nations," Wang added.

"The U.N. Security Council should play an important role in this ... Military methods cannot resolve the Syria issue."

France has called the deal to destroy the arsenal an "important step forward" and said that talks on Monday in Paris would focus on implementation.

China has called for a full and impartial investigation by U.N. chemical weapons inspectors in Syria, and warned against pre-judging the results, though it has also said that whoever uses chemical weapons had to be held accountable.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina; Editing by Nick Macfie)