China says willing to send observers to Syria

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China said Friday that it is willing to send observers to monitor a U.N. cease-fire aimed at stopping 13 months of fighting in Syria.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told reporters that Beijing was "willing to send people and join the work of the observers and the advance team," a change from a day earlier, when he said China was only considering the move.

"We will continue to play a positive and constructive role in facilitating a fair, peaceful and proper resolution on the Syria issue," Liu said.

He did not give details on how many observers China would send or on any financial contribution, saying that Beijing was still in talks with U.N. officials.

A cease-fire brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan has been in place since last week, but U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that Syria is not honoring the cease-fire, and that the violence is escalating.

The truce is aimed at stopping a crackdown by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad on a popular uprising that is estimated to have left 9,000 people dead and led refugees to pour into neighboring countries.

Ban has recommended the Security Council quickly approve a 300-member U.N. observer mission to Syria, a number larger than what was originally envisioned. But he said he would review ground developments before deciding when to deploy the mission.

China and Russia have both been seen as protecting Assad by twice shielding Syria from U.N. sanctions over the crackdown.