Opposition fighters from the Thu Al-Nurein brigade prepare to fire a homemade cannon in Syria's northern city of Aleppo during clashes Wednesday with government forces. (Nur Halab / AFP via Getty Images)
BEIJING — The conflict in Syria cannot be resolved by military means and the EU is working hard to bring about a negotiated political solution, EU President Herman Van Rompuy said Thursday.
Van Rompuy spoke following an EU-China summit in Beijing at which Syria and other international issues were discussed. He said China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has a role to play in formulating actions to mitigate the conflict such as the destruction of chemical weapons.
"There is no military solution for this conflict," Van Rompuy said.
The EU has spent 2 billion euros ($2.68 billion) since 2011 on relief for refugees of the conflict, which has displaced millions of people, Van Rompuy said. China has been criticized for blocking harsher action by the U.N. that could lead to the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad and has provided much more modest humanitarian assistance.
Van Rompuy said he discussed with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang ways to "take a more active role together in securing international development" to alleviate conflicts.
Van Rompuy said China is already working closely with the EU on the Iranian nuclear issue. He said the sides also discussed the need to restore stability in North Africa, Mali and the Sahel to fight organized crime and terrorism.
The one-day summit also focused heavily on boosting trade and investment. The EU is China's largest trading partner, and China is the EU's second largest trading partner after the United States.
That included a new focus on cooperation as China's rural population moves increasingly to the cities. Li addressed more than 1,000 entrepreneurs, officials and city planners at a joint EU-China forum on the topic on Thursday, telling them of the need to borrow ideas and experience from urbanized countries and the potential for "huge business opportunities."