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BEIJING (Reuters) - China has expressed regret over former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's resignation as international peace envoy for Syria and stressed support for the United Nations playing an important role in resolving the Syrian crisis.
Annan said he was quitting at the end of the month, frustrated by "finger-pointing" at the United Nations while the armed rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad becomes increasingly bloody.
"We understand the difficulties of Annan's mediation work, and respect his decision," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement late on Thursday.
Hong also praised Annan's efforts and said China is open "towards any proposals that would help promote a political solution to the Syria issue".
"China supports the United Nations' continuing to play an important role in promoting an appropriate solution to the Syria issue," he said.
International efforts to halt the violence in Syria, which has claimed an estimated 18,000 lives, are deadlocked because Russia and China have together vetoed three resolutions intended to increase the pressure on Assad. The United States and Britain have blamed Moscow and Beijing for undercutting Annan's efforts.
Annan blamed "finger-pointing and name-calling" at the U.N. Security Council for his decision to quit.
His mission, centred on an April ceasefire that never took hold, began to look irrelevant as fighting intensified in the main cities of Damascus, Aleppo and elsewhere.
Annan suggested that the continued arming of all sides in the conflict and the Security Council deadlock had undermined his ability to pursue a diplomatic solution.
Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Paul Tait