China to boycott “Friends of Syria” meet

Published Thursday, July 5, 2012

China said on Thursday it would not attend a "Friends of Syria" meeting in Paris that is aiming to coordinate Western and Arab efforts to force Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.

"(China) at present does not consider attending the meeting," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told reporters when asked about a French invitation to be involved in the event that is due to take place on Friday.

The Paris meeting follows one in Tunis in February and another in April in Istanbul that both called in vain for tougher action against Assad's government.

The United States, France, Britain, Germany, along with Arab monarchies Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are leaders of the "Friends of Syria," which has pushed for foreign intervention in the country.

Russia has said it will stay away from the Paris meeting after accusing the West of seeking to distort a weekend deal by world powers in Geneva aimed at achieving a transition of power.

China did not attend the previous two "Friends of Syria" meetings and backed Russia in Geneva on insisting that Syrians must decide how the transition should be carried out, rather than allow others to dictate their fate.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday agreed that Syrians must be able to decide their own fate and accused the United States and its allies of opposing the regime of Assad with the goal of dominating the Middle East.

"The main enemies...are trying to revive their domination of the region and to save the occupying regime from destruction," he told visiting Syrian parliamentary speaker Jihad al-Lahham on Wednesday, according to his presidential website.

"The Americans are seeking only their interests, and it is the right of the people of the region, including the great Syrian people, to freely decide their own fate and others should not impose their demands on them," Ahmadinejad said.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP)

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