China proposes Syria ceasefire

Smoke rises following the explosion of a fuel truck in Saudi Arabia today.

BEIJING — China said today it had proposed a new initiative to head off an escalation of violence in Syria, including a phased, region-by-region ceasefire and the establishment of a transitional governing body.

The plan, proposed yesterday to Lakhdar Brahimi, the visiting United Nations-Arab League joint peace envoy on Syria, “is an extension of China’s effort to push for a political resolution of the Syrian issue”, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

The 19-month-old revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claimed at least six more lives yesterday in a bomb blast, state media and opposition activists said.

That followed the collapse of the latest ceasefire proposal, brokered by Brahimi in an effort to stop the fighting over the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.

The conflict has left an estimated 32,000 dead.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news briefing that under Beijing’s “new proposal there are constructive new suggestions such as a ceasefire region by region and phase by phase, and establishing a transitional governing body”.

Brahimi met yesterday with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi who said the world should act with greater urgency to support Brahimi’s mediation efforts.

“More and more countries have come to realise that a military option offers no way out, and a political settlement has become an increasingly shared aspiration,” Hong said.

“China’s new proposal is aimed at building international consensus and supporting Brahimi’s mediation efforts … and push forward for relevant parties in Syria to realiee an early ceasefire and end of violence, and launch a political transition process led by the Syrian people at an early date.” (Reuters)

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