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UN's Syria resolution on point, FM says

Updated: 2013-09-29 01:35
By ZHANG YUWEI at the United Nations ( China Daily)

The 15-member United Nations Security Council's unanimous adoption of a resolution to strip Syria's government of its chemical weapons reflects the council's solidarity and points toward a diplomatic solution to the Syria issue, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said after the vote on Friday.

He made the statement at the UN General Assembly's 68th session in New York.

UN's Syria resolution on point, FM says

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks to the UN Security Council on Friday evening after the council's unanimous vote to rid Syria of chemical weapons.[ZHANG YUWEI / CHINA DAILY]

"Neither Syria nor the Middle East region can afford another war," Wang said.

"In dealing with the Syrian issue, the Security Council must bear in mind the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, act with a sense of responsibility to the Syrian people, the world and history, and ensure that any decision it takes can stand the test of history."

Wang noted it was the council's first major joint action on the Syria issue in the past year and said China played a "constructive" role in the "tough" negotiations.

"We are firmly opposed to the use of chemical weapons by any country, any group or any individual," Wang said.

"Whoever uses chemical weapons should be condemned by all."

Wang said the resolution establishes the "overall" objective of the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria and the roadmap for the follow-up work.

"The Chinese side is ready to send experts to participate in relevant work and provide financial support in this regard," Wang said.

He added that the Chinese government has provided more than $11 million in humanitarian assistance to Syrian civilians in and outside of the country.

Experts praised China's role in the council's quest for a peaceful diplomatic solution.

Zhu Zhiqun, political science and international relations professor at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, said China's vote on the resolution reflects its long-standing principles and current policy.

"Viewed from Beijing, this is a much better outcome than a resolution authorizing military strikes against the Syrian government," Zhu said.

Jon Taylor, a political science professor at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, said the resolution is a "laudable first step" in eliminating Syria's chemical weapons and potentially arriving at solutions to end the conflict.

"(It) could not have happened without the direct role that China played in negotiations," Taylor said.

"China and other members of the Security Council have gotten US President Barack Obama out of a diplomatic jam by brokering this agreement."

Russia and China — two of the council's five permanent members — previously vetoed three Western-backed resolutions warning Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime to end the violence on the penalty of possible military intervention. The passed resolution makes the measure legally binding but provides no means of automatic enforcement through sanctions or military force.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the resolution's passage "historic".

"Securing and destroying weapons of mass destruction in a civil war will be daunting," he said.

"We will be working together with the OPCW — the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons — on the modalities to deliver quickly and effectively based on our respective strengths."

The adopted resolution (2118) was a joint effort by the US and Russia who submitted the landmark document on Thursday. Ban and foreign ministers from the council's permanent members held two meetings on the General Assembly's sidelines over the past week to clinch a resolution on Syria.

Wang and US Secretary of State John Kerry met twice in the past two weeks, respectively at the UN headquarters and in Washington DC, for discussions that included Syria.

"With a strong, enforceable, precedent-setting resolution requiring Syria to give up its chemical weapons, the United Nations Security Council has demonstrated that diplomacy can be so powerful, it can peacefully defuse the worst weapons of war," Kerry said.

Paul Heinbecker, a former Canadian ambassador to the UN who now serves as a distinguished fellow with the Center for International Governance and Innovation, said the passage of the resolution is a "major advance" in ridding the world of chemical and other weapons of mass destruction.

But the former diplomat warns that the resolution is "not the end of the Syrian story".

"It is now incumbent on the Security Council — especially the permanent five members, including China — to build on the chemical weapons agreement and bring the civil war to an end," Heinbecker said.

"Assad's military machine remains intact. The military balance has not tipped. The civil war grinds on, the bodies of civilians pile up and the innocent are denied justice."