Continued from page 1

Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain would discuss the possibility of a joint African Union-U.N. peacekeeping force for Syria ahead of the Tunisia talks.

“Such a mission could have an important role to play in saving lives,” he said.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said there must be a cease-fire in Syria before any peacekeeping mission could be sent to the country, rejecting calls for a joint Arab-U.N. force as premature.

Lavrov told reporters in Moscow that his country will study the Arab League proposal for a joint peacekeeping mission in Syria with the United Nations.

“We should first have peace, which would be supported,” Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow with United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin refused to directly answer questions about whether Beijing would support the League’s call, saying only that China backs the League’s “political mediation efforts.”

He reiterated China’s stance that it wanted to see Syrian authorities and opposition forces “properly solve their disputes through dialogue.”

Assad’s regime has long blamed terrorists for the revolt that began with peaceful calls for democratic change, but is morphing into a bloody, armed insurgency.