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China calls on Assad to speed up reforms

In a sign that they may be losing patience with the Syrian regime, China called on President Assad to speed up with implementing reforms as anti-government protests continue to rock the country.

Foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin gave a statement saying,

“China is highly concerned about the situation in Syria, is against the use of violence, and we hope not to see any more bloodshed and casualties.”

"We believe the Syrian government should move faster to honour its reform pledges and swiftly start to push forward the inclusive political process with the broad participation of all parties in Syria."

The statement marked the first time that China had swayed from its long-standing policy of non-interference in Syria, and follows remarks from Syria’s other ally at the UN, Russia, who’s President Medvedev called for Assad to implement reforms or leave office. (See our earlier post here.)

Both Russia and China vetoed a UN resolution on Syria which threatened sanctions in case of further violence.

Yet, on Monday, the Russian upper house of parliament's foreign-affairs chief Mikhail Margelov warned Syria that their veto was “no blank cheque”.

After meeting with members of Syria’s opposition, he said,

 "The Russian veto at the UN Security Council on the Syria draft resolution is no way a carte blanche for the current ruling Syrian regime to do everything they want."

We are indulging neither the regime nor the opposition, no way, it is actually the last bell.

With our veto at the UN Security Council we have used up the whole tool kit which international law offers us. This is the last appeal to the authorities and the opposition to take their places around the table and to start a national dialogue."

Meanwhile, just days after Syria warned against recognition of the recently formed Syrian National Council (SNC), Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council has officially recognised the SNC as the representative of the Syrian people. The Syrian embassy in Tripoli was also closed.

The EU in a statement on Monday also "welcomes the efforts of the political opposition to establish a united platform" and noted the creation of the Syrian National Council (SNC) "as a positive step forward".

See our earlier post: 'Syria warns against recognition of opposition' (Oct 2011)

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