China calls for transitional govt in Syria

Chinese President Xi Jinping repeated on Thursday a call for a political resolution to the three-year Syrian crisis

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Chinese President Xi Jinping repeated on Thursday a call for a political resolution to the Syrian crisis and his country’s support for an inclusive political transition and offered to boost aid for Syrian refugees, Reuters reported.

“China respects the reasonable demands of the Syrian people, and supports the early adoption of the Geneva communique and the opening of an inclusive political process to bring about a political resolution to the Syrian issue,” Reuters quoted Xi as telling a China-Arab forum in Beijing, in a speech broadcast live on state television.

The first round of Syria peace talks in Geneva in 2012 stipulated the establishment of a transition government, though subsequent peace talks have floundered.

China and its ally, Russia, have both vetoed Western efforts to set U.N. penalties on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, though China has been keen to show it is not taking sides and has urged the Syrian government to talk to the opposition.

No mention of Syrian election

While Assad won a landslide victory in a wartime election on Tuesday, Xi made no mention of the vote.

The United States and European Union, for their part, condemned the election.

China has played host to both opposition and government delegations, though to little apparent effect.

China is paying great attention to the humanitarian situation of the Syrian people, and would give further aid to refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, Xi added, but gave no details.

China, not a major diplomatic player in the Middle East despite its reliance on oil imports from the region, has consistently urged a political resolution for Syria and opposed the use of military force.

U.N. envoy sounds alarm

In a related story, the U.N. humanitarian aid chief says the number of Syrians in need is expected to jump “significantly” in the coming weeks as her office releases its latest measures of the three-year crisis, the Associated Press reported.

Valerie Amos, however, provided no reason for the expected jump while talking to reporters Wednesday.

The United Nations already estimates that 9.3 million people in Syria urgently need humanitarian assistance, and more than 6.5 million are internally displaced.

U.N. Security Council members are working on a draft resolution that would authorize the delivery of humanitarian aid into Syria through four border crossings without approval from the Assad government.

Amos says international donations for aid are “way down” this year, with just $450 million received out of a $2.3 billion appeal.

(With Reuters and the Associated Press)