UN Chief Ban in China pitches for toughness over Syria
Beijing: UN leader Ban Ki-moon called for rapid, unified action by the Security Council on Syria as he arrived in Beijing on Tuesday as part of a diplomatic push to get Russia and China to back a tougher response to attacks by President Bashar Assad's regime.
Ban's trip comes ahead of a UN Security Council vote tomorrow on whether to allow sanctions and authorise actions to enforce them that could ultimately include the use of military force, which US and European officials are playing down as a possibility.
Russia and China have blocked previous efforts to sanction Syria.
"The UN Security Council needs to be united and take action," Ban said, as translated into Chinese during a live webcast today. "I will do everything I can to resolve the Syrian crisis."
Ban is to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao on tomorrow. There has been heightened urgency to global diplomatic efforts on Syria since it was reported last week that dozens were killed in a regime assault on the Syrian village of Tremseh.
UN observers said the attack appeared to target army defectors and activists.
Syria has denied UN claims that government forces used heavy weapons such as tanks, artillery and helicopters during the attack.
In response to the attack, Ban warned UN members on Friday that inaction on Syria would be "license for further massacres."
China has maintained that a diplomatic solution is the only way to end the crisis and resisted calls to pressure Assad to step down.
The official People's Daily newspaper ran a commentary today strongly opposing force against Syria and calling for a political solution, a sign that China may again block the Western-backed resolution in the Security Council, where it is a veto-wielding member.