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China Supports Extension Of UN Mission In Syria

China has supported move for the extension of the U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) in order to coordinate mediation efforts by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan and safeguard the direction of political solution to the Syria crisis, its permanent representative to the world body Li Baodong said on Monday.

"There are two draft resolutions on the table. One is from Russia, the other from Britain. Members of the Security Council is now on consultations of it," he told reporters after a meeting of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) on UNSMIS. The 15-member Council must decide the future of the UNSMIS by July 20, when its initial 90-day mandate expires.

"China supports extension of UNSMIS, which could help coordinate Annan's mediation efforts and make sure that political solution to the Syrian crisis is on track. The Russian version of draft shares the same position with China on the above point of view," China's state media quoted Li as saying.

Li also stressed that China has "great difficulties" in agreeing with the quotation in the British version of some parts of Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter. It gives the UNSC right to employ economic and diplomatic sanctions and, if necessary, the use of armed forces to give effect to its decisions. "China hopes the Council could achieve agreement on draft resolution, remain united and continue to work hard towards this objective," he said.

The UNSC approved in April the deployment of 300 unarmed military observers to oversee cessation of violence in Syria and monitor the implementation of Annan's six-point plan. UNSMIS suspended most of its activities following intensified violence across the country since June 16.

"The urgent priority concerning Syria is for the international community to further support Annan's mediation efforts, effectively implement his six-point plan, relevant Security Council resolutions and communique released by the Action Group Foreign Ministers meeting in Geneva so as to alleviate tension in the country and push forward political solution to the Syrian problem," the Chinese envoy said.

"The political process in Syria should be led by the Syrians and relevant plans need to be discussed and developed by all parties in Syria," he said.

The UNSC is divided on the question of extension of UNSMIS mandate. The draft resolution proposed by Western nations including Britain and France contains threat of sanctions against Syria by quoting Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, while the Russian draft resolution proposed extending the mandate for another three months, reducing the number of military observers and asking the operation to take on a more political mission without threat of sanctions.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday ahead of Annan's second visit to Moscow that Russia was strongly opposed to linking UNSMIS' mandate extension with military operations against Syria. He even said the Western-proposed draft resolution contains "elements of blackmail."

China and Russia had vetoed UNSC resolutions seeking power transition in Syria where more more than 10,000 people had been killed since a popular uprising broke out against the "repressive" regime of President Bashar al-Assad 16 months ago.

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