Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem was in Beijing on Friday to discuss China's potential role in the 13-month old crisis.
Moallem arrived in Beijing on Wednesday to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi. Along with Russia, China is one of the few countries that has yet to abandon the Syrian government. Moallem said this week that the countries are very close together, so as President Bashar al-Assad continues to break the terms of the ceasefire, Syria could be hoping that China will stay on its side.
Both China and Russia are members of the U.N. Security Council, which is expected to vote early next week on whether to send a team of 300 or more unarmed observers to Syria in order to try to keep Assad honest. Russia and China have blocked two earlier resolutions on the Syrian conflict -- one of which was an official U.N. condemnation of the Damascus regime -- because they were unbalanced in favor of the opposition.
On Friday, China did say that it is willing to send its own observers to join the United Nations' advance team of seven international observers, who arrived in Syria this week.
China is discussing the details with the UN Secretariat, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told China Daily.
We will continue to play a positive and constructive role in facilitating a fair, peaceful and proper resolution on the Syria issue, Weimin added.
China is also preparing to meet with members of the opposition Syrian National Council, which Turkey's Today's Zaman labeled a political ploy to assure a strong relationship with Syria should the Assad regime fall.
During his state visit, Moallem said that Syria would implement the terms of Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan and welcomed further observers. Syria and Annan, a special U.N.-Arab League envoy, have recently been squabbling over how many observers to send, but the Syrian foreign minister claimed that his country was ready to fulfill its ceasefire, troop withdrawal and other relevant commitments and begin cooperating with the United Nations monitoring team, according to the UPI press agency.
The ceasefire deadline passed 10 days ago, but scattered violence in Syria continues. On Friday, Syrian troops used live fire and tear-gas to break up protests in a number of cities across the country, while mortar shells continued to strike rebel neighborhoods and residential areas in Homs. Additionally, the Syrian government reported that 10 soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb, according to the Associated Press.