Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan to serve as special envoy on Syrian crsis
U.N. envoy Kofi Annan said the acceptance by Syria's government of his cease-fire plan is an “important initial step” to ending a deadly crackdown that began in March 2011. Reuters

The Chinese government said that it supports the peace plan for Syria proposed by former United Nations’ secretary-general Kofi Annan, just ahead of the envoy’s visit to Beijing.

Now serving as a special envoy for the UN and the Arab League, Annan is scheduled to meet with senior Chinese officials on Tuesday to secure their endorsement of his six-point peace program for Syria.

China values and supports the mediation efforts of Mr. Annan and hopes this visit will allow in-depth discussions on a political resolution of the Syrian issue, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement.

Hong added that Beijing hopes for fair, peaceful and proper solution.”

Annan has already received support for the plan from Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. In a direct appeal to Syria, Medvedev warned that the country risks sinking into a deadly civil war if both sides do not accept Annan’s peace plan.

According to Agence France Presse, Annan’s proposals include, among other things, an immediate ceasefire by both sides in Syria, the withdrawal of government soldiers from cities that have been under siege, and the initiation of steps towards the formation of a democratic society in Syria.

However, the plan apparently does not call for the immediate resignation of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad – a step that the Arab League and Syrian opposition leaders have already demanded.

Nonetheless, receiving the support from Russia and China are viewed as crucial elements to resolving the Syrian crisis, given that these two giants have been long-time allies of Assad and have already vetoed two prior UN resolutions aimed against the Damascus regime and its brutal crackdown of protesters and civilians.

Still, Russia and China are reportedly opposed to any foreign military intervention in Syria (similar to the NATO bombing campaign in Libya that ultimately brought an end to the 40-year rule of Moammar Gadhafi last year).

According to China’s Xinhua news agency, some analysts believe Annan may be the only diplomat with the ability to resolve the conflict in Syria.

Konstantin Eggert, a Russian expert on Arab affairs, told Xinhua: If Annan's mission fails, Lavrov told me, the entire regional stability will be under threat… It becomes clear that Moscow has kept its promises to assist Annan's mission in Syria.

On Monday, Medvedev reiterated his support for Annan’s plan while conferring with U.S. President Barack Obama in South Korea.

We believe that [Annan’s] mission is very good, and we hope that he will be able to reach good results, and to somewhat appease, at least initially, the situation [in Syria], Medvedev told reporters in Seoul, while attending a summit on nuclear security.

In his comments, Obama conceded that the U.S. and Russia had disagreed on how to deal with the Syrian crisis.

Although there had been some differences over the past several months, we both agree that we should be supportive of Kofi Annan's efforts to try to end some of the bloodshed that's taking place within Syria and move towards a mechanism that would allow for the Syrian people ultimately to have a representative and legitimate government that serves their interest, Obama said.