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French and Chinese Foreign Ministers Hail Syria Deal

Both countries hail Syrian agreement to hand over chemical weapons stockpile as a "significant development."
By Kochava Rozenbaum
First Publish: 9/15/2013, 11:52 AM

French, Chinese Foreign Ministers in previous meeting
French, Chinese Foreign Ministers in previous meeting
Reuters

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met in China Sunday with his counterpart, Wang Yi, as part of international talks to end the Syrian civil war.

Fabius, who arrived in Beijing on Sunday morning called the agreement by the Assad regime to hand over control of its chemical weapons stockpile "a significant step forward," adding that "important decisions need to be taken on Syria."

"Only a few days ago, Syria was denying having chemical weapons and having used them. From now on we are in a new phase," Fabius said. "We must move forward on the basis of this general agreement."

France has been one of the strongest backers of the United States in urging military action in response to the chemical attack on August 21, which killed 1,400 Syrians. The Assad regime denied responsibility for the attack while blaming the Syrian rebel forces for the incident. 

In contrast, China has joined Russia in consistently blocking resolutions at the United Nations Security Council to sanction the Syrian regime. 

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday that he welcomes the deal between the U.S. and Russia to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons, which removed the threat of U.S. strikes against Bashar al Assad's regime.

"The Chinese side welcomes the general agreement between the US and Russia. This agreement will enable tensions in Syria to be eased," Wang Yi said at the meeting with FM Laurent Fabius, according to AFP. "This agreement opens the way to solve the Syrian question by peaceful means."

The U.S.-Russian agreement was reached in Geneva on Saturday after three days of intense discussions between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia's Sergei Lavrov.

Kerry is set to arrive in Israel on Sunday to brief Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu about the agreement. On Monday Fabius is due to host Kerry, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal in Paris.