France FM in Beijing to discuss Syria

BEIJING (AP) — France’s foreign minister was due to meet with his Chinese counterpart on Sunday in a continuing diplomatic drive to end the two-and-a-half-year civil war in Syria.

Laurent Fabius was due to meet Wang Yi at China’s Foreign Ministry.

France firmly backs the Syrian rebels and has strategic and historic interests in the region. It urged military action after a chemical attack on Aug. 21 that it and the U.S. blame on President Bashar Assad’s government.

In contrast, China and Russia have consistently blocked resolutions at the U.N. Security Council aimed at sanctioning Assad’s regime.

On Saturday, U.S. and Russian diplomats in Geneva agreed on a deal to secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, averting the threat of military action for now.

Fabius said the deal was “a significant step forward.”

In a statement on the French Foreign Ministry’s website, he said he would discuss its content and implementation at a meeting Monday in Paris with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

He said a report by U.N. inspectors on the chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of Damascus would be published Monday.

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