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Chinese president urges political solution

Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping.

Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping.

BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping told his US counterpart Barack Obama today that the crisis in Syria should not be resolved through a military strike and urged him to consider a political solution, state news agency Xinhua said.

Xi’s are the highest-level comments from China since an August 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria. They follow remarks by a foreign ministry spokesman, who urged a role for the UN Security Council in resolving the crisis after the United States said it had given up trying to work with the council on Syria.

“A political solution is the only right way out for the Syrian crisis, and a military strike cannot solve the problem from the root,” Xinhua quoted Xi as telling Obama on the sidelines of a G20 summit in St. Petersburg in Russia.

“We expect certain countries to have a second thought before action.”

China has called for a full and impartial investigation by UN chemical weapons inspectors in Syria into the attack, and has warned against pre-judging the results. It has also said that whoever used chemical weapons had to be held accountable.

Xi stressed to Obama China’s position on adhering to the two principles of “maintaining the basic norms of international law and relations” and the prohibition of the use of chemical weapons, according to remarks broadcast by state television.

He urged the international community to work toward a meeting on Syria at a second conference in Geneva, with the aim of discussing an open political transition in Syria.

Russia and China have both vetoed previous Western efforts to impose UN penalties on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

But China has also been keen to show it is not taking sides and has urged the Syrian government to talk to the opposition and take steps to meet demands for political change. It has said a transitional government should be formed.

Remarksyesterday by Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, left no doubt that Washington would not seek UN approval for a military strike on Syria in response to the chemical attack. (Reuters)

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