BEIJING, Sept. 11 -- Syria has taken a "major step" in easing tensions in the country by showing support for a Russian proposal to place its chemical weapons stockpiles under international control, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Wednesday.
"China welcomes the Syrian government's latest statement. We hope all parties can seize the opportunity, respond positively to the statement and push for a proper solution to the issue of chemical weapons in Syria through political and diplomatic means," Hong told a daily news briefing.
Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi stressed support on Tuesday for the Russian initiative in order to avoid a possible U.S. strike against Syria.
Also on Tuesday, France reportedly drafted a United Nations Security Council resolution to demand a complete declaration of chemical weapons program from Syria and immediately open all related sites to UN inspectors.
The draft says necessary measures might be taken under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, referring to steps ranging from sanctions to military intervention.
China supports the UN Security Council in playing its important role in peace and security issues and is willing to keep in contact with all parties on the Council's next move, Hong said.
"We maintain that the Security Council's actions should be based on consensus after full deliberation from all parties," Hong said, adding that the action should be conducive to easing tensions, preserving peace and stability in Syria and the region, and achieving a political solution in Syria.
Hong reaffirmed support for the Russian proposal, saying China has been in touch with Russia, Syria and other parties involved.
"On the Syria issue, we should safeguard the international rule prohibiting use of chemical weapons while adhering to a political solution," Hong said. "We need to promote the two tracks."
Russia has been working on a feasible, clear, detailed plan to place Syrian chemical weapons under international control. Contact with the Syrian side is under way at the moment, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday following talks with his Libyan counterpart, Mohamed Abdulaziz.
Lavrov assured that the plan would soon be submitted for further discussion to the UN Secretary General and the Security Council as well as the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
China will continue to uphold an objective and fair position, promote peace and dialogue, and play a constructive role in seeking a proper diplomatic and political resolution, Hong said.
He also said China has noted U.S. President Barack Obama's televised address Tuesday and reiterated China's opposition to chemical weapons use and the threat or use of force in international relations.
Hong said unilateral military action bypassing the Security Council is against international law and the basic norms of international relations, and worsens the unrest in Syria and the region.
Russia's proposal offers an important opportunity to ease the tension and properly resolve the international community's concerns on the chemical weapons issue in Syria, he said.