China says it will make efforts on Syria reconstruction

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks during a joint press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Beijing, China on December 5, 2016. (File photo by Reuters)
Updated 25 November 2017
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China says it will make efforts on Syria reconstruction

BEIJING: China hopes Syria can show “flexibility” in promoting peace talks, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday in a meeting with an adviser to Syria’s president, adding that China would help with its reconstruction.
Syria’s six-year-old civil war has killed hundreds of thousands of people, forced millions to flee in the worst refugee crisis since World War Two and embroiled regional and world powers.
For years, Western and Arab countries backed an opposition demand that President Bashar Assad quit power, but since Russia’s 2015 entry into the war, his government has won back major cities and now looks militarily unassailable.
Leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed on Wednesday to help support a full-scale political process in Syria and announced an agreement to sponsor a conference in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi to try to end the war.
Wang told Bouthaina Shaaban, a senior aide to Assad visiting China, that engagement over the future of Syria’s political arrangements had intensified, and that he believed it would contribute to a formal peace process talks in Geneva.
“China hopes the Syrian side can seize the opportunity, display flexibility, and promote dialogue and negotiation to achieve substantive results,” Wang said, according to a statement from China’s foreign ministry.
“The international community should emphasize and actively support Syria’s reconstruction. China will put forth its own effort for this,” Wang said, without elaborating on what those efforts would be.
Shaaban welcomed China playing a greater role in Syria’s political resolution process, the ministry said.
While relying on the Middle East for oil supplies, China tends to leave the region’s diplomacy to the other permanent members of the UN Security Council, namely the United States, Britain, France and Russia.
But China has been trying to get more involved, including sending envoys to help push for a diplomatic solution to the violence there and hosting Syrian government and opposition figures.
China hopes a peaceful Middle East will also help end the involvement of ethnic Uighurs, a Muslim people from the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang, with militant groups in Syria and Iraq.


Philippine army arrests wife of top Islamist militant in south

Updated 2 min 35 sec ago
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Philippine army arrests wife of top Islamist militant in south

MANILA: Philippine soldiers arrested the wife of a top leader of a pro-Daesh militant group, and killed a suspected bomber in separate raids in a southern city, the army said on Monday.
Nafisa Pundog, who had been in hiding for two years since her escape from prison, was arrested in General Santos City, said army spokesman Major Ezra Balagtey.
Her husband Human Abdul Najib, alias Abu Dar, is the new leader of the pro-Daesh Maute group, which seized the lakeside town of Marawi for five months last year, he added.
“She did not resist arrest,” Balagtey told reporters, adding that materials to make improvised bombs were seized from her hideout.
Before the arrest, soldiers killed Najib Pundog, a suspected bomb maker, not far from the hideout. “He chose to shoot it out with soldiers who tracked him down in his safe house,” Balagtey said.
Both individuals, who are not related, despite a shared surname, were on a list of those President Rodrigo Duterte ordered to be arrested when he imposed martial law on the southern island of Mindanao after the Marawi attack in May 2017.
More than 1,100 people died in the five-month conflict in Marawi, which ended days after soldiers killed the militant leaders, Omarkhayam Maute and Isnilon Hapilon, the emir of the Southeast Asian militant group.