BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Foreign Ministry urged a role for the U.N. Security Council in resolving the crisis in Syria on Friday after the United States said it had given up trying to work with the council on Syria, accusing Russia of holding it hostage.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power's remarks on Thursday left no doubt that Washington would not seek U.N. approval for a military strike on Syria in response to an August 21 chemical attack near Damascus.
She said a draft resolution Britain submitted to the five permanent council members last week calling for a response to that attack was effectively dead.
Asked about those comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the Security Council needed to be used.
"China supports the important role that the U.N. Security Council plays in properly resolving the Syria issue," Hong told a daily news briefing in Beijing.
"We hope that relevant parties can continue communications and coordination and hold deep consultations so as to resolve the relevant issue in a peaceful way," he added.
China has called for a full and impartial investigation by U.N. chemical weapons inspectors in Syria into the August 21 attack, and has warned against pre-judging the results. It has also said that whoever uses chemical weapons had to be held accountable.
"China believes that a political solution is the only realistic way out on the Syria issue. Given the current circumstances, a political solution is of utmost importance," Hong said.
"We also hope the international community can work together and push for the holding of an international conference on the Syria issue at an early date."
Russia and China have both vetoed previous Western efforts to impose U.N. penalties on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
But China has also been keen to show it is not taking sides and has urged the Syrian government to talk to the opposition and take steps to meet demands for political change. It has said a transitional government should be formed.
(This story removes extraneous word "settlement" in paragraph eight)
(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)