BEIJING (AP) — China on Sunday welcomed a Russia-U.S. agreement on securing and destroying Syria's chemical weapons, saying it was a peaceful solution to the stockpile issue and could ease the tense situation in the war-torn country.
In a diplomatic breakthrough that averts the threat of U.S. military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime for now, American and Russian diplomats in Geneva agreed Saturday on a deal to secure and destroy its chemical weapons.
"We believe the framework agreement will ease the current tense situation that may be triggered at any moment in Syria and creates new prospects for resolving the chemical weapon issue in Syria through peaceful means," said Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
He spoke at the beginning of a meeting with his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, who was visiting Beijing in a continuing diplomatic drive to end the two-and-a-half-year civil war.
France firmly backs the Syrian rebels and has strategic and historic interests in the region. It urged military action after a chemical attack on Aug. 21 that it and the U.S. blame on President Bashar Assad's government.
In contrast, China and Russia have consistently blocked resolutions at the U.N. Security Council aimed at sanctioning Assad's regime.
Ahead of his arrival in Beijing, Fabius said the deal on destroying Syria's chemical weapons was "a significant step forward."
In a statement on the French Foreign Ministry's website, he said he would discuss its content and implementation at a meeting Monday in Paris with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
He said a report by U.N. inspectors on last month's chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of Damascus would be published Monday.
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