China's foreign minister on Sunday welcomed a deal between the United States and Russia to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons, which ruled out the prospect of U.S. strikes against Bashar al-Assad's regime.
“The Chinese side welcomes the general agreement between the U.S. and Russia. This agreement will enable tensions in Syria to be eased,” Wang Yi said at a meeting with his visiting French counterpart Laurent Fabius, Agence France-Presse reported.
Fabius arrived in Beijing Sunday morning and was due to head back to Paris later.
Iran, a staunch Syrian regime ally, also welcomed the deal. The Iranian deputy foreign minister said on Saturday the deal should mean that the United States no longer has a pretext to attack Syria.
"The new situation means in fact that any pretext for the United States and certain countries to engage in military action against Syria has been removed," Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said.
"We can even talk of a success by the front of the resistance (against Israel)" -- Iran, Syria, Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Palestinian group Hamas, Amir-Abdollahian said.
Meanwhile, the French foreign minister called the pact “a significant step forward” and said “important decisions need to be taken on Syria,” according to AFP.
“We must move forward on the basis of this general agreement,” he said.
The U.S.-Russian agreement was reached in Geneva on Saturday after three days of talks between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia's Sergei Lavrov.
The deal intends to bring Syria's chemical weapons under international control by the middle of next year and leaves the door open to sanctions if Damascus fails to comply, but does not specify what they would be.
Assad has a week to hand over details of his regime's stockpile of chemical weapons and Kerry said he must provide “immediate and unfettered” access to chemical weapons inspectors, according to AFP.
France has been supporting the U.S. in urging military action in response to an Aug. 21 chemical attack on the outskirts of Damascus allegedly carried out by Assad’s regime which killed more than 1,000 people, according to Syrian opposition figures.
China is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council with a veto power. It has consistently supported Russia’s position to block resolutions supported by the U.S. and its allies over the course of the Syrian conflict.
Beijing says it opposes interference in other countries’ internal affairs.