China tells Assad to stop violence: Xinhua

China on Wednesday hailed a UN statement on Syria as a positive step towards a political settlement and called on President Bashar al-Assad's government to "cease violence immediately".

China and Russia have twice used their powers as permanent Security Council members to veto resolutions on Syria, saying they were unbalanced and only sought regime change.

But following intense negotiations between the major powers, the two countries signed on to a peace plan by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan which calls on Assad to work toward a cessation of hostilities and a democratic transition.

"We call on the international community to support the mediation efforts by Annan, and create favorable conditions for his work," Li Baodong, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, told Xinhua state news agency.

"China hopes the Syrian government and the relevant parties to actively support and coordinate the good-office of Annan, cease violence immediately, reflect political will and launch political dialogue as soon as possible in order to achieve an early political settlement of the Syrian crisis."

The UN presidential statement, which carries less weight than a formal resolution, gives strong backing to a six-point plan that Annan put to Assad in talks in Damascus this month and gave a veiled warning of future international action.

While supporting Annan's efforts, Li once again stressed the Chinese standpoint that there should be no foreign military intervention in Syria, saying the Syrian people must determine their own affairs.

"China respects the choice of the Syrian people, supports peaceful, just and proper settlement of the Syrian crisis through political dialogues," he said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed the adoption of the statement by all parties, describing it as a "positive step".

"We think it is quite significant that we are now all united behind Kofi Annan's mission," she said.

The UN statement called on "the Syrian government and opposition to work in good faith with the envoy towards a peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis".

The council also expressed its "full support" for Annan's efforts to facilitate a Syrian-led transition to a "democratic, plural political system".

China has denied that its vetoes of the UN Security Council resolutions were motivated by "self-interests".

But Chinese and Russian opposition to tough action against Assad has left major powers in deadlock on ways to end the bloodshed in Syria, where the UN says well over 8,000 people have been killed in the last year.

  • Man drives three-wheeled Mustang along a Texas highway 2 hours 54 minutes ago
    Man drives three-wheeled Mustang along a Texas highway

    Some things in life are hard to explain, like why a dentist insists on asking you questions when you clearly can't respond. Or why we call pants "a pair" even though it's just one. Or how about this puzzler: Why a person would drive their Mustang along a Texas highway despite it missing a wheel? Life is full of little mysteries, I guess.

  • How a mom stole a car in under 60 seconds 21 hours ago
    How a mom stole a car in under 60 seconds

    “I didn't steal your car but I think my mom may have. It's a long story. I'll explain, but your car is safe and sound," read the flier posted in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It’s a strange tale that began when Cheyrl Thorpe was asked by her daughter Nekisia Davis to dog sit her Pomeranian at her apartment, according to New York Magazine.

  • All-new 2015 Subaru Outback reestablishes higher ground 23 hours ago
    All-new 2015 Subaru Outback reestablishes higher ground

    Much of Subaru’s modern day success in America can be attributed to one car: the Outback. Born in 1994 as a response to the growing popularity of SUVs, the Outback established a winning formula of combining a high-riding suspension, butch body cladding and big round fog lights to its comfortable, no-nonsense Legacy wagon. It is the kind of unique product that only a quirky company like Subaru could build, and was one that kept Subaru from slipping into ubiquity even as traditional SUVs and crossovers have taken over the world.

  • Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers
    Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers

    Singaporeans on social media reacted angrily to news that tissue sellers at hawker centres and street corners are being required to pay for an annual licence.

  • Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry
    Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry

    Heart-wrenching messages of fear, love and despair, sent by high school students from a sinking South Korean ferry, added extra emotional weight Thursday to a tragedy that has stunned the nation. Nearly 300 people -- most of them students on a high school trip to a holiday island -- are still missing after the ferry capsized and sank on Wednesday morning. Mom, I love you," student Shin Young-Jin said in a text to his mother that was widely circulated in the South Korean media.

  • Indonesia’s armed forces chief says “no apology” for warship’s name
    Indonesia’s armed forces chief says “no apology” for warship’s name

    General Moeldoko, the head of Indonesia’s Armed Forces, has clarified that he had not apologised for the naming of a warship after two Indonesian marines who had been involved in the 1965 MacDonald House bombing in Singapore.