China Says Envoy Met Arab League Head Over Syria

Published February 14, 2012 7:54AM (EST)

BEIJING (AP) — China, which vetoed a U.N. resolution on Syria, said Tuesday that its envoy held talks with the head of the Arab League.

China along with Russia vetoed the resolution more than a week ago that would have pressured Syria's President Bashar Assad to step down, saying a vote was called before differences in the proposal were bridged.

The veto drew widespread criticism, including from the Arab League, which has been pushing regional efforts to end 11 months of bloodshed in Syria.

A statement from the Foreign Ministry said Li Huaxin had traveled to Cairo where he held "frank and useful" talks with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby on Monday.

"China and Arab countries have a very traditional friendship and cooperative relationship, and maintain close communication and coordination on political affairs," Li said in the statement.

"Given the constantly escalating Syrian situation, the aim of this visit to Cairo was to explain China's position and policies to the Arab League and Arab countries, and listen to their opinions," he said.

Assad's regime has cracked down hard since the uprising began last March. More than 5,400 people have been killed, according to a U.N. estimate in January.

On Monday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it backed Arab League mediation efforts in Syria but refused to say if it supported its call to send in peacekeepers to stop the fighting. The Arab League has asked the U.N. Security Council to authorize a joint U.N.-Arab peacekeeping mission to Syria.

China's stance on Syria is expect to come up later Tuesday when Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping meets President Barack Obama at the White House.

By Salon Staff

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