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No letup in aid to Syrian people

Zhang Yunbi in Kuwait City
Updated: Apr 2,2015 10:37 AM     China Daily

China will “further provide necessary humanitarian aid in accordance with the developing situation in Syria”, as this is no time for the world to give up hope for settling the crisis, special envoy on Middle East Affairs Gong Xiaosheng said.

Gong made the remarks in an interview with China Daily after attending the third International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, which was held in Kuwait.

A veteran diplomat who once served in Palestine, Jordan and Turkey, Gong assumed his current post in September. He defines the current situation in the four-year Syrian crisis as “dire”, with its millions of refugees.

China has provided aid to refugees inside Syria, as well as those in neighboring countries, including Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. It has also been cooperating with the United Nations and its subgroups, he said.

Beijing is still lobbying the parties of the dispute to bring them back to the table for peace talks, and also “supports any diplomatic efforts by the international community that could advance the peace process in Syria”, Gong said.

“We support any moves or diplomatic effort that will ease the situation, and which are helpful to the Syrian people. We expect the situation in Syria will head toward improvement and relief,” he said.

As a live witness to some of the past major conflicts in hot spots of the Middle East, Gong expressed personal pain over the suffering of the Syrian people.

“Syria was once one of the most beautiful countries in the Middle East, and was one of the most ideal destinations for Chinese diplomats who could speak Arabic. But now we are sad to see what it has become,” he said.

Gong said China places a priority on the fundraising conference and salutes Kuwait and other Gulf nations for their attention to the crisis and their efforts to aid the refugees.

China’s stake in the conference is to “make its concerns over the issue heard by the international community”, he said.

When asked about the future of Syria, Gong said “there are a remarkable number of uncertainties”, and where the country will be “depends on the parties concerned, as well as on whether international players can prompt positive developments.”

On the conflict between Palestine and Israel, he agreed that the situation continues to be thorny, though he sees some readiness for peace from both sides.

“When I was contacting them, both sides voiced expectations that the international community could help them proceed on the peace process. They definitely yearn for peace,” he said.

Gong stressed that “there are a lot of things that could be done. The potential is huge ... and the parties have displayed interest in this regard”.

All the parties to the conflict subscribe to the idea that preventing a major downturn “serves the interests of all”, he said.

“And the international community has interests in this regard. This is where our efforts are grounded. We hope that our efforts will cement such a basis,” he said.

“If everyone sticks to their differences, a settlement will never be negotiated.”