Syria's Foreign Minister is in China .This follows a visit to Russia last week.
Syria's foreign minister will arrive in Beijing on Monday to brief Chinese officials about a United Nations-brokered ceasefire for the conflict-torn country.
The report from Damascus, which quoted a Syrian foreign ministry spokesman, said Walid Muallem would visit China for two days.
The first UN observers arrived in Syria on Sunday to monitor a ceasefire between government troops and rebels, part of the Annan plan.
Speaking of UN observers? Russia claims ceasefire is fragile
"There really are those who are interested in the failure of Kofi Annan's plan and they actually mentioned that (opinion) even before this plan was made public" Mr Lavrov
"There are countries – there are outside forces – that are not interested in the success of current UN Security Council efforts"
In amongst some of the changes at the UN covered in this post, I hadn't seen this mentioned
Moscow backed the resolution after successfully insisting on including one Russian officer in the observers group.
One Russian observer in the initial team with more to come?
Sergei Ryabkov, deputy foreign minister, said Russia would be "substantially" represented in the mission.
"The specifics of our participation in the observers mission are being worked on right now," Interfax quoted Mr Ryabkov as saying.
"Without a well-functioning observers mission working in the field, it is impossible to obtain a reliable and objective picture of what is happening."Don't get excited about the meeting, mentioned below. This has been one of many meetings Russia has had with internal Syrian opposition.
Russia on Monday also hosted members of the National Coordinating Committee for Democratic Change – a splinter opposition group that was not invited to the latest Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul.
Interesting op-ed : Iran and Syria: Small Glimmer of Hope in a Bleak Scenario
Read in full at above link
As of now, the slide down in West Asia towards war – both on Iran and in Syria – seems to have come to a fragile halt. The negotiations in Istanbul on Iran's nuclear enrichment have not ended in mutual recriminations as was expected but in a promise to meet again in Baghdad in 6 weeks time. In Syria, the brittle peace engineered by Kofi Annan is mostly holding, albeit with some breaches.
Iran and Nuclear Weapons
The Iran issue should have been a simple one. Legally, Iran has a right to uranium enrichment up to 20% – as long as the fissile material is under IAEA safeguards. This is what NPT guarantees. Iran has no obligation to give up uranium enrichment or technologies that can help in making a bomb. Such technologies are dual use technologies and giving up these technologies is equivalent to Iran giving up whole sectors of the economy. A course that is not asked of say, Germany and Japan. Probably about 40 countries in the world have the capability that Iran is being asked to give up.
IAEA under the current Director General Amano concedes that Iran's fissile material inventory is fully accounted for – Iran has not diverted any of it for weapons purpose.
The issue for Israel and also the US has never been the actual violation of NPT by Iran. There is near unanimity that Iran has not renewed its weapons program after 2003. Developing weapons capability is allowed to it under NPT, as also building fuel enrichment facilities. Therefore, when Israel and echoing Israel, the US asks for dismantling its nuclear enrichment facilities and not building weapons capability, they are asking Iran to capitulate and give up what is permitted under NPT.
Israel has argued that a weapons capable Iran is an existential threat to it. The US has also been talking about various red-lines for Iran, some times actual nuclear weapons development, some times nuclear weapons capability. For both, the argument has been Iran should give up fuel enrichment. Therefore, if Ashton's statement is taken as the basis, this is a significant change. Not surprisingly, Netanyahu has criticised the talks in Istanbul, claiming that Iran is being given a “freebie”. Israel wants ratcheting up of the sanctions and driving the US into a war with Iran. This was proceeding quite nicely with brutal sanctions including cutting off Iran from the global banking network, with threats of more to come. What may have given the US pause is the realisation that turning Iran's oil spigot off will do far more damage than the current increase of 25 cents per gallon. With Russia, China and even India now not willing to hurt their own economy to please the US, the sanction route was hitting a huge road block.
Syria – part of the Iran-Israel-US Mix
For Israel and the US, Iran's influence is now spreading – Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and even Palestine is under its influence. Therefore knocking out Syria – either regime change or a civil war – serves the larger interests of Israel and the US in the region.Syria has also drawn the other West Asian powers into its fray. The Saudis, the Gulf Emirates and Qatar are all aligning with rising Muslim Brotherhood as is Turkey. For them, either secular nationalism or radical Islamic nationalism of the Iranian kind are threats to their relationship with the US and the NATO. They are all a part of the neo-liberal consensus, as are the Muslim Brothers. While they differ on Israel with the US and NATO, on the issue of Iran and its radical influence, they are all united.