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Ban Visits China Ahead of Security Council Showdown on Syria

  • VOA News

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon (File)

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon (File)

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is heading to China amid a looming showdown at the U.N. Security Council over two competing resolutions on Syria.

Ban's trip will include talks with President Hu Jintao, and his arrival comes as the official People's Daily newspaper ran a commentary rejecting foreign intervention in the Syrian crisis.

"Sovereign equality and noninterference in internal affairs is a red line that must not be crossed," the commentary said. "A political solution is the only way out of the Syrian problem."

Syria is also a key topic Tuesday in Moscow, where Russian President Vladimir Putin in hosting talks with U.N. envoy Kofi Annan.

China and Russia have vetoed previous Western-backed Security Council resolutions calling for tough action against Syria.

On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister accused the West of using 'blackmail" to pressure Moscow into backing a stronger U.N. resolution against Syria.

Lavrov said diplomats are threatening to block a Russian resolution extending the observer mission in Syria if Russia vetoes stronger sanctions.

A draft resolution by Britain, France, Germany and the United States would renew the U.N. observer mission for 45 days and threaten Syria with sanctions if it does not stop using heavy weapons against rebels and civilians.

A Russian proposal would renew the mission for 90 days without the threat of sanctions.

Violence Flares around Damascus

Monday, Syria moved armored vehicles into the capital, Damascus, as opposition fighters battled Syrian government forces in what residents described as the fiercest fighting yet inside the capital. Activists said fighting had spread to several neighborhoods and in the center of the city.

Residents were fleeing neighborhoods under attack and government armored vehicles lined the roads leading into and out of southern Damascus.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Sunday there is a state of civil war across more parts of Syria, widening its earlier designation.

Activists say more than 17,000 people have been killed in the 16-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.


Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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