CHINA UNDECIDED ON PARTICIPATION IN FRIENDS OF SYRIA MEETING
China has not decided whether to accept an invitation to discuss the brewing civil war in Syria with other world powers later this week in the Tunisian capital, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday, Feb 21, according to Reuters.
The Friends of Syria, backed by Western powers and the Arab League, will meet in Tunis on Friday to seek an international agreement on how to end the violence in Syria and is expected to put pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will attend.
"China has already received the relevant invitation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing. "China is still further studying this meeting's function and mechanisms and so on."
Russia, which along with China this month blocked a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that backed an Arab plan urging Assad to quit, turned down the invitation saying it did so because Syria was not invited.
China has sent envoys to the region to seek a diplomatic solution for Syria, including Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun, who met Assad in Damascus on Saturday and backed plans for a referendum and multi-party elections.
China has repeatedly said it does not support any use of force, or the threat of force, to intervene in Syria, and has called on all sides to stop the violence and begin talks.
Assad's government says it is battling a foreign-backed insurgency by terrorists, and is committed to meeting real demand for democracy with the referendum on a new constitution, leading to multi-party elections within 90 days.
The West and Syrian opposition figures have dismissed the plan as a joke, saying it is impossible to have a valid election amid the continuing repression.
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