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China’s UN envoy says Beijing isn’t protecting Syria’s Assad

UNITED NATIONS - China is not trying to protect President Bashar Assad of Syria and will respect the will of the country’s people on its future, China’s UN ambassador said Monday.

Li Baodong said China is calling on all parties in Syria to immediately implement international envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan, stop the killings, and launch an inclusive political process to restore peace and stability to the country.

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“We [do] not have intention to protect anybody against anybody,’’ he said. “What we really want to see is that the sovereignty of that country can be safeguarded, and the destiny of that country can be in the hands of the people in Syria.’’

China and Russia vetoed two Security Council resolutions that raised the threat of possible sanctions against Syria and have ruled out any Libya-style military action to protect civilians in Syria.

The Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper warned again against military intervention in Syria, but recent statements from Beijing and Moscow indicate that their patience is fading.

Li, who is president of the Security Council this month, said that last month’s massacre of more than 100 civilians, including small children, in the cluster of Syrian villages known as Houla “caused colossal damage’’ to Annan’s attempts to restore peace.

Germany, which opposes the use of military force, has been pushing for Russia to join in supporting UN sanctions. President Vladimir Putin of Russia said Friday that while he saw worrying signs of an emerging civil war in Syria, he was also opposed to military intervention.

In Berlin on Monday, France’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said after meeting his German counterpart that no “durable solution’’ is possible while Assad remains in power. But he said, “I believe the Syrian regime will end up falling under the weight of its crimes.’’

While some Gulf countries support the idea of arming rebels, Western and Arab allies have been reluctant to supply those fighting the regime, partly because of their lack of cohesion, and also for fear of igniting a broader and more intense conflict.

At a news conference in Istanbul on Monday, Syrian activists announced the formation of a rebel coalition, the Syrian Rebels Front, which aims to overcome deep divisions within the opposition in its fight against Assad’s forces.

But it is uncertain how well the new organization will coordinate with other sectors of the Syrian opposition.

The failure of rebel factions to accept unified military control and agree on a common strategy has hobbled its campaign to topple Assad despite a nationwide uprising that has lasted more than one year and killed up to 13,000 people, according to activist groups.

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