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Syria: France backs US ‘No Fly Zone’, Russia and China Continues Cooperation with Damascus

August 24, 2012 (TSR) – The international community is still divided on ways to solve the Syrian conflict as France indicated Thursday that it would support a partial no-fly zone over Syria while Russia continues close cooperation with the Syrian authorities on energy.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking on France 24 television, called for a partial closure of Syria’s air space, as suggested by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

However, he warned that shutting Syria’s entire air space would mean “going to war.”

Earlier this month, Clinton said imposing no-fly zones around Syrian cities such as Aleppo “need greater in-depth analysis.” She said Turkey and the United States had agreed to mull further moves.

As a follow-up, Turkish and U.S. officials Thursday held their first “operational planning” meeting to coordinate military, intelligence and political responses to the crisis in Syria.

Earlier in the day, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad again accused Turkey of helping “terrorists” in Syria.

He said “support by regional circles, including the dangerous support by Turkey” is among the factors “that have fuelled this crisis” as regional countries are providing the rebels with sophisticated weapons.

Syria’s staunch ally Russia said Thursday it would continue economic cooperation with the Middle East country although it suffers unilateral sanctions by a number of countries.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the economic ties between Russia and Syria have developed dynamically over the last 18 months.

Cooperation in the oil and gas industries, transport and agriculture was discussed during the two visits to Moscow by Syrian government delegations led by Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Qadri Jamil in August.

After Kofi Annan resigned as UN special envoy to Syria earlier this month, Syria Thursday expressed its readiness to work with new UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, hoping he could pave the way for “national dialogue.”

Deputy Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad said his country was expecting news from the UN secretariat about further details after the expiry of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria.

Mikdad made the remarks after meeting with Gen. Babacar Gaye, head of the expired UN mission.

The four-month UN observer mission in Syria expired last week. The United Nations agreed to establish a civilian office in Damascus to keep a foothold in Syria.

The Chinese government will provide 30 million yuan (4.76 million U.S. dollars) worth of emergency humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.

Two batches of material assistance worth 15 million yuan each will soon be delivered to Jordan and Lebanon to help the two governments settle the refugees and improve their humanitarian situation, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

Last March, the Chinese government provided 2 million dollars in cash assistance to the Syrian people through the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Source: Xinhua

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