China to invite Syria factions to talks

Source:Agencies Published: 2015-12-21 0:33:01

Beijing has given $105 million in humanitarian aid

China said it will invite representatives from the Syrian government and its opposition groups to promote the peace talks, as the UN Security Council threw its unanimous support Friday behind a plan to end Syria's civil war by summoning rebels and the government to the negotiating table.

All the opposition groups that support a political settlement and do not engage in extreme, terrorist activities should have the opportunity to participate in future Syria peace talks, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a meeting of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) in New York before the Security Council met, according to the foreign ministry website.

The UN can also be invited to participate in the talks to lend authority and legitimacy to the talks, Wang said.

On the fight against terrorism, Wang said that concerted counter-terrorism efforts are needed not only in military action, but also should be reflected in the exchange of information and the cessation of distribution channels of terrorist personnel and funding, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

As for humanitarian aid, the minister noted that more assistance should be given to Syria and neighboring countries. China has provided humanitarian aid worth of 685 million yuan ($105.7 million) on multiple occasions to Syria and other countries in the region and the figure will add another 100 million yuan from now on.

In terms of reconstruction, Wang said that efforts could be made to establish a Reconstruction Trust Fund led by the UN and to encourage the voluntary return of refugees through reconstruction, Xinhua reported.

The US and Russian initiative, which emerged from talks with a 17-nation group, foresees a rapid cease-fire in the almost five-year conflict, perhaps as early as January, AFP reported.

If the plan brings Bashar al-Assad's government to the table with the armed opposition, it will allow Russian and US-led forces to focus their firepower on the Islamic State group.

"In January we hope and expect to be at the table and to be able to implement a full cease-fire," US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters. "And that means all the barrel bombs will stop, all the bombing, all the shooting, all the attacks on either side."

Attention now turns to Moscow and Riyadh, as Russia pressures Assad's government to agree to a ceasefire and Saudi Arabia wrangles the opposition to form a negotiating team.

The UN special envoy on the conflict, Staffan de Mistura, said he would send out invitations to talks in January.

The US and Arab allies remain convinced Assad must leave office as part of the process, but his allies Moscow and Tehran insist this is a decision for the Syrian people, according to AFP.

Posted in: Diplomacy, Mid-East

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