China welcomes Russia's proposal for Syria weapons handover
BEIJING (REUTERS) - China said on Tuesday it backed a Russian proposal for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons for destruction, a plan that could avert planned US military strikes in response to the country's suspected use of its arsenal on civilians.
US President Barack Obama has argued that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, fighting to continue his family's four-decade rule, must be punished for what Washington says was a poison gas attack on rebel areas that killed more than 1,400 people on August 21.
Hours after US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday commented that a strike could be avoided if the Syrian leadership handed over its chemical weapons, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he had put a proposal to his visiting Syrian counterpart during talks in Moscow.
"We welcome and support the Russian proposal," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters at a regular news briefing.