China protested a move by France to arm Libyan rebels in their struggle against government forces Thursday, declaring that governments around the world should seek a peaceful end to the Libyan conflict. "China calls on the international community to strictly follow the spirit of the relevant resolution of the U.N. Security Council and avoid taking any action that goes beyond the mandate of the resolution," Chinese foreign minister Hong Lei told reporters. The statement follows a report yesterday from the French daily Le Figaro citing French military admitting they've been parachuting weapons and ammunition to rebels on a number of occasions. According to The New York Times France's assistance marks the first time a NATO member has provided direct military aid to anti-Qaddafi forces. "Col. Mahmoud Mosbah, the leader of the military council in the western town of Rujban, acknowledged that weapons were dropped by parachute near his town over a three-day period this month," reports the paper. The Associated Press reports that weapons included "machine guns, rocket propelled grenades and munitions." China's foreign minister avoided calling out France specifically for aiding the rebels. "We always call for a political resolution to the Libyan crisis so as to restore peace and stability as soon as possible."
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