China urges early action on Syria weapons deal

WASHINGTON - China called Friday for quick implementation of a US-Russian deal to destroy Syria's chemical weapons, voicing hope for a political solution to the crisis.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi, whose country holds a veto on the UN Security Council, said that China was "firmly opposed to the use of chemical weapons by any country or individual."

"We support the early launch of the process to destroy Syria's chemical weapons," Wang said at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Wang also called for a second Geneva conference aimed at ending Syria's bloody civil war to take place "as soon as possible."

"We believe that a political settlement is the only right way out in defusing the Syrian crisis," he added. His remarks came a day after Wang met with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who urged China to take a "positive, constructive" role on Syria and said that the Pacific powers "disagreed sharply" over the global response to chemical weapons use.

China has already welcomed the Russian-US framework under which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would surrender his chemical weapons to international control.

The agreement, initiated by Russia, at least temporarily halted calls by US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande to strike Syria in response to Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons.

China, which often faces criticism over its own human rights record, has traditionally opposed Western military interventions.

But China has generally taken a lower-key role than Russia, a longstanding ally of Assad.