Sunday, May 19, 2024
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BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated to Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas on Wednesday his call for the state of Palestine to become a “full member” of the United Nations, state media reported. Xi expressed Beijing’s position during a summit with Arab countries in Saudi Arabia in December, although the latest call comes as the Asian powerhouse works to strengthen its role as a mediator in the Middle East.

Xi met Abbas during the December trip and pledged to “work for an early, just and durable solution to the Palestinian issue”. Beijing has since positioned itself as a mediator in the Middle East, brokering the restoration in March of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia — rivals in a region where the United States has for decades been the main powerbroker.

“China supports Palestine in becoming a full member State of the United Nations,” Xi said during a meeting with Abbas in Beijing, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV. “The fundamental way out of the Palestinian issue lies in the establishment of an independent Palestinian State,” he said. Abbas will be in the Chinese capital until Friday, his fifth official visit to the world’s second-largest economy. Xi told Abbas at a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People that China was “ready to strengthen coordination and cooperation with the Palestinian side. Today, we will jointly announce the establishment of a China-Palestine strategic partnership, which will be an important milestone in the history of bilateral relations,” Xi said.

Abbas arrived in Beijing on Monday to hold talks with top Chinese leaders including Xi and Premier Li Qiang.  The two sides are using the opportunity to discuss ways to advance relations and resolve longstanding challenges to the Palestinian-Israel relationship.

Beijing has sought to boost its ties in the Middle East, challenging US influence — efforts that have sparked unease in Washington. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin called long-time Palestinian leader Abbas an “old and good friend of the Chinese people” during a regular media briefing last week.

Finding a lasting solution to Israeli-Palestinian tensions may prove elusive, as peace negotiations between the two sides have been stalled since 2014. Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang told his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts in April that his country was willing to aid peace negotiations, Xinhua reported. And Qin told Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al Maliki that Beijing supports the resumption of talks as soon as possible, according to the state news agency. In both calls, Qin emphasised China’s push for peace talks on the basis of implementing a “two-state solution”.

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