China backs UN effort on Syria

Beijing (ANTARA News/Xinhua-OANA) - China supports the United Nations effort on resolving the Syria issue, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Friday.

At a daily news briefing, Hong said, "We hope relevant parties continue to keep in touch and deepen negotiations to seek a peaceful, proper solution on Syria."

His remarks came in response to a U.S. move to carry out military action without UN approval and a U.S. accusation that Russia has taken the Security Council "hostage" on Syria.

U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said she could see no way to seek Security Council approval for action because of Russia`s stance on blocking resolutions.

"The international community should safeguard the purposes and principles of the UN Charter as well as basic rules of international relations so as to maintain peace and stability in Syria and the Middle East," Hong said.

"We support [Lakhdar] Brahimi`s mediation efforts and hope the international community can work together to push an international conference on Syria to take place at an early date," Hong said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi reiterated to leaders attending the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg the need to "push even harder" for a political solution to end the bloodshed in Syria.

Media reports said Brahimi tried to push for an international conference on Syria during his visit to Russia.

With the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria, a UN investigation team has returned from the country and are now in the process of studying samples to determine whether weapons were used on Aug. 21 in the Ghouta section of Damascus, the Syrian capital, where hundreds were reportedly killed.

From Moscow, it was reported that Russia warned the United States on Friday against any unilateral military strike on Syrian chemical facilities.

"We are especially alarmed by the fact that military infrastructure facilities guaranteeing the safety and security of arsenals of Syrian chemical weapons are considered among the possible targets of strikes," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Moscow warned Washington and its allies against "delivering any strikes at chemical or adjacent territories," it said.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday that Russia could not take the U.S. proof of chemical weapons use in Syria as they were far from convincing.

At a press conference in St. Petersburg on the sidelines of a G20 summit, Peskov said the UN Security Council was the "only legitimate body" in international affairs that can use legitimate forces.

President Vladimir Putin suggested world leaders discuss the situation in and around Syria during a Thursday dinner, so that "we do not heap up things together."(*)