Syrian government envoy praises China, Russia as 'non-colonisers'
BEIJING - A Syrian government envoy praised China and Russia on their stance towards the bloody conflict engulfing her country in an interview published on Thursday during a visit to Beijing that she said would give officials a "real picture" of the crisis.
Envoy Bouthaina Shaaban's interview with the state-run China Daily was the first public comment from her trip to Beijing, where she arrived on Tuesday, and she sought to cast China as a steadfast friend of President Bashar al-Assad's government, beset by a civil war with opposition forces.
"We're happy to see countries like China and Russia, who are not colonisers or deal with people as colonisers," Shaaban told the English-language newspaper, adding that this is "a very different stance from the West".
She said her visit would give "the Chinese leadership a real picture of what's going on in Syria".
Shaaban, an adviser to Assad, was due to meet Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi later on Thursday, said the report. China has so far not disclosed what its officials have told the envoy.
On Wednesday, the official People's Daily said China hoped the talks with the envoy and a proposed visit by opposition representatives would help rekindle hopes for a brokered solution to the violence in Syria.
But Chinese media commentary has also underscored the extent to which Beijing remains resistant to Western proposals for more forceful steps in Syria, where the tide turns steadily against Assad. Former prime minister Riyad Hijab said on Tuesday Assad controls less than a third of Syria and his power is crumbling.
Opposition sources say at least 18,000 people have been killed since rebels began fighting to oust Assad in March 2011.
Apart from Iran, China and Russia have been Syria's main supporters outside the Arab world and both vetoed proposed U.N. Security Council resolutions meant to add pressure on Assad.
Although the former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan quit in frustration as the international peace envoy for Syria early this month, China has continued to argue that his proposals offer the most viable way out of the increasingly blood war.
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