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Syria Protests: China Sends Envoy

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SYRIA PROTESTS CHINA
Lebanese security forces stand guard in front of a banner showing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to separate his supporters from a counter-protest against the Syrian government's crackdown | Getty

BEIJING — China said Tuesday that it was sending an envoy to Syria after blocking a U.N. resolution earlier this month that threatened sanctions, and reiterated that it wants a political solution to the country's ongoing crisis.

Wu Sike, China's special envoy on the Middle East, will visit Syria and Egypt from Wednesday through Sunday, the Foreign Ministry said.

The uprising in Syria has proven remarkably resilient even though the government has tried relentlessly to crush the revolt. The United Nations says more than 3,000 people have been killed in the government crackdown on the protests, and international pressure has been building for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Tuesday that Beijing wants all parties in Syria to resolve the crisis peacefully.

"We believe the Syrian government should deliver on its reform pledges, respond to the people's appeals and that all parties should, in a constructive manner, actively participate in the political process," Jiang said in a regular briefing.

China and Russia vetoed the already watered-down Security Council resolution criticizing the Syrian government for suppressing protests because they objected to language that left open the possibility of sanctions against Syria.

The opposition movement driving Syria's 7-month-old uprising has mostly focused on peaceful demonstrations, although recently there have been reports of protesters taking up arms to defend themselves against military attacks. There have also been increasing reports of defections from the military, highlighting a trend that has raised fears that Syria may be sliding toward civil war.

The United States has pulled its ambassador out of Syria, arguing that his support for anti-Assad activists put him in grave danger. Syria responded quickly Monday, ordering home its envoy from Washington.

China and Russia have also been urging the chief U.N. nuclear inspector to scrap or delay U.S.-backed plans to reveal intelligence on Iran's alleged nuclear arms experiments, in a bluntly worded confidential document obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

Asked about the Chinese-Russian diplomatic note to International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano, Jiang would only say that China believes in resolving the dispute through dialogue.

"We hope the IAEA can uphold the just and objective position, bring into full play their professional advantage, engage in contact and interaction with Iran and play a constructive role for solving the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic means," Jiang said.

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Associated Press writer George Jahn contributed to this report from Vienna.

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Follow Gillian Wong on Twitter at http://twitter.com/gillianwong

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