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Chinese FM urges basic framework to shape Syria peace talks

2014-01-23 15:07 Xinhua Web Editor: Mo Hong'e

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday urged Syria's warring sides to set a basic framework to shape their peace talks.

"Instead of miring themselves in argumentation or debates at the beginning on issues where their positions are quite far apart, they should reach an agreement on the principles and framework of negotiation," Wang told reporters after attending the Geneva II conference on Syria.

"An early harvest should be achieved on issues where the two sides are not far apart," such as a local ceasefire, prisoner releases and humanitarian cooperation, he said.

Representatives from the Syrian government and opposition met here for the first time Wednesday at the conference, but the start of negotiations was marred by clashes and accusations.

The Chinese foreign minister said the UN-led peace talks needed to keep going forward by "tackling the easiest issues first and moving onto more difficult ones later."

"It is not easy for the parties in Syria to sit down at the negotiation table," Wang said, adding the hard-won opportunity should be cherished and negotiations must be pursued relentlessly.

"The negotiation will be painstaking and tortuous for sure. That is why confidence, patience and perseverance are essential," he said, adding compromise, mutual accommodation and meeting each other half way were of vital importance for moving forward.

"I believe that, as long as the negotiation keeps going without disruption, then as the dialogue deepens and trust grows between the two sides, all issues should and can be resolved," he said, adding China would make ceaseless efforts to push the talks forward until a solution acceptable to both parties is found.

As an ongoing process, the Geneva conference should have a clearly defined follow-up mechanism and serve as an open platform that facilitates the participation of all Syrian parties committed to a political settlement, Wang said.

Wang said the peace talks should cover all topics of concern to the two sides and he urged the international community to provide constructive help so the two parties could find a "middle way."

He also called on the United Nations to fully use its role as the main channel of mediation, including suggesting ways to better promote reconciliation.

However, Wang stressed the international community must avoid imposing any political solution from the outside, especially when the time was not ripe, as it could only make the issue more complicated.

At the conference on Wednesday, the Chinese foreign minister reiterated China's stand on the need for a political settlement of the issue. "It is crucial to recognize that there is no military solution and the Syrian people want to see a return of stability and order," he said.

"It is also crucial to appreciate the importance of a stable Syria to peace and security in the Middle East, including preventing the further spread of terrorism and extremism," Wang said.

China was committed to solving the issue through peaceful means, and opposed willful use of force, Wang said, adding his country had put forward five principles for a political settlement, including promoting an inclusive political transition process and delivering humanitarian assistance.

"To alleviate the sufferings of the Syrian people, we have provided humanitarian assistance to Syria and its neighbors and will offer additional assistance, including medical materials," he said.

He urged all parties to fully cooperate with the United Nations and relevant agencies as they carry out relief operations, and to avoid politicizing or militarizing humanitarian issues.

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