Beijing hosts Assad regime adviser amid criticism of its position

China plays down use of UN veto by saying opposition will also visit.

BEIJING // A key adviser to the Syrian president, Bashar Al Assad, arrived yesterday for talks with the Chinese foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, and other top officials, while Beijing said it would also host opposition figures soon.

Bouthaina Shaaban's trip to Beijing comes as China continues to resist pressure to join those nations calling for the end of the Assad regime.

Along with Russia, it has vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions aimed at stemming the spiralling violence in the country and promoting a political transition.

"China has always actively promoted its work between the Syrian government and the opposition in a balanced way to achieve a political solution to the Syria issue," the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, said in an earlier statement. Li Mingjiang, an assistant professor at the S Rajaratnam school of international studies in Singapore, said yesterday that Mr Al Assad had sent his envoy "to persuade Beijing to provide strong support for his regime". However, he said Beijing's invitation to opposition figures at this point - a proposal that follows previous meetings between Chinese officials and opposition leaders - showed Beijing was "more willing openly to pursue a balanced approach".

"It's likely the Assad regime may seek Chinese mediation," Mr Li said. "They know China has been in contact with the opposition, and this contact is becoming stronger," he added. Tomorrow, the role of the United Nations mission to Syria is on the agenda of the UN Security Council. The meeting comes as the UN-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan's mandate to seek a peaceful solution to the crisis ends on August 31.

Mr Annan resigned on August 2 following the failure of his six-point plan to end the violence believed to have caused more than 20,000 deaths in Syria.

dbardsley@thenational.ae

Published: August 15, 2012 04:00 AM

SHARE

Most Read