February 20, 2012 / 6:50 PM / 8 years ago

China, Russia may be shifting on Syria: Arab League

CAIRO (Reuters) - The Arab League chief said on Monday there were signs that China and Russia could be shifting their stance on Syria after the two permanent members of the U.N. Security Council vetoed a Western-backed Arab peace plan aimed at ending violence there.

“There are indications coming from China and to some extent from Russia that there may be a change in position,” League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby told a news conference in Cairo.

China and Russia’s blocking this month of a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that backed an Arab plan demanding that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step aside angered the West and Arab states.

They also voted against a non-binding General Assembly resolution to back the Arab plan last week.

China has sent envoys to the region, stung by Western criticism that by vetoing the resolutions it was allowing the violence in Syria to increase.

Elaraby also said a meeting on Friday in Tunisia of the “Friends of Syria” - a group that includes Arab and Western nations - was to “put extra pressure on Syria.”

The President of the General Assembly Nasser Abdel Aziz said before the news conference in Cairo the international community could no longer remain silent on the situation in Syria.

“We know there are difficulties in the Security Council but I think we cannot stay silent and have to exert the utmost pressure so that the (Syrian) government implements what was agreed upon, or make the Security Council look into the matter more seriously because it is dangerous and there are big violations,” he said.

“The international community cannot remain silent in such a dangerous case as Syria’s,” he added.

Reporting by Shaimaa Fayed; Writing by Edmund Blair

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