BEIJING – China welcomed on Thursday the Syrian government's decision to cease fire and urged the regime to fulfill its pledge to abide by a peace plan brokered by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it hopes the Syrian government continues to "take concrete actions to support and cooperate with Annan's mediation efforts."
Beijing has also called on Syria's armed opposition to observe a cease-fire and work toward a political settlement of the crisis.
China has joined Russia in blocking attempts by the U.S. and others at the United Nations to compel Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime to end violence against political opponents waging a 13-month uprising. That has drawn accusations that Beijing is providing cover for Assad, with whom it has long enjoyed friendly relations.
On Thursday in Syria, hours after Assad's regime promised Annan it would halt fighting, opposition activists said the country's uprising hotspots were quiet. It was the first brief lull after weeks of escalating attacks on opposition strongholds, but expectations were low for an abrupt end to the bloodshed that has roiled Syria for 13 months and claimed more than 9,000 lives.
Western powers have pinned their hopes on Annan's plan, in part because they are running out of options. The U.N. has ruled out any military intervention of the type that helped bring down Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, and several rounds of sanctions and other attempts to isolate Assad have done little to stop the bloodshed.