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Syrian envoy lauds China, Russia stance on crisis

August 16, 2012

Syrian government envoy Bouthaina Shaaban (L) shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing August 16, 2012. –Reuters Photo

BEIJING: A visiting Syrian government envoy praised China and Russia for not acting like ''colonizers'' in their response to her country's 18-month conflict, as the regime reached out to Beijing for support as it deals with major defections.         

The state-run China Daily newspaper on Thursday quoted Bouthaina Shaaban as saying Syria will not share the same fate as Libya, where Nato-led airstrikes helped topple dictator Moammar Qadhafi's regime last year. Shaaban is political and media adviser to President Bashar Assad.

''We're happy to see countries like China and Russia, who are not colonizers or deal with people as colonizers,'' Shaaban told the newspaper, calling it ''a very different stance from the West.''

China and Russia have repeatedly used their veto power at the UN Security Council to block strong Western- and Arab-backed action against Assad. Moscow is a key ally of Assad, and China cites its own stance against military intervention.

The paper said Shaaban was scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Thursday. Her convoy was seen entering the Foreign Ministry building in Beijing but ministry officials had no immediate comment.

Yang was expected to reiterate calls for both sides in Syria to implement UN peace envoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan to end the fighting that has killed an estimated 20,000 people over the last 18 months.

Annan is resigning at the end of the month due to his failure to achieve even a temporary cease-fire in the civil war.

Shaaban said her visit was intended to give ''the Chinese leadership a real picture of what's going on in Syria,'' the report said.

She said sanctions by the West were hurting the lives of ordinary Syrians and the West was worsening the situation by ''supporting with arms and money people who are inciting the civil war in Syria.''

China felt burned after abstaining on a UN vote supporting no-fly zones in Libya, accusing Nato of overstepping the resolution's mandate and vowing to block any similar measures in future.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Monday that China was also considering inviting Syrian opposition groups.

There have been several high-profile defections from the Syrian government side recently, including former Prime Minister Riad Hijab.