US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Beijing to use its influence in the Middle East to prevent other state or non-state actors from attacking Israel and widening its war with Hamas, the State Department said.
(Bloomberg) — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Beijing to use its influence in the Middle East to prevent other state or non-state actors from attacking Israel and widening its war with Hamas, the State Department said.
Blinken spoke with Foreign Minister Wang Yi before departing from Riyadh, where the top US diplomat was attempting to shore up support for Israel among Arab nations, said State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.
It was their first call since the Hamas attacks on Israel a week ago.
President Joe Biden’s envoy is on a diplomatic tour of the Middle East, making stops in Israel, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates as well as Saudi Arabia.
The US has been particularly concerned about Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militia group in Lebanon, opening an additional front in the war on Israel’s northern border. China has close relations with Iran, and assisted Tehran in brokering a landmark diplomatic detente with Saudi Arabia earlier this year.
Wang reiterated China’s stance that it opposes any actions that harm civilians and condemns all practices that violate the international laws, according to a statement from the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Beijing.
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“China believes that safeguarding one country’s own security can’t be at the expense of harming innocent civilians,” Wang said in the statement. “There is no way out through military means, and stopping violence by violence will only create a vicious cycle.”
Wang urged the US to take the lead in playing a constructive role to push for political solutions, according to the ministry’s statement. He hailed the recent improvement in China’s relations with the US and called on the Biden administration to respect China’s core interests and major concerns.
For its part, the Israeli government criticized China’s stance on the war.
“Israel is deeply disappointed at China’s official statements and media reports,” Deputy Director-General in charge of Asia-Pacific Affairs Rafi Harpaz told Special Envoy on the Middle East Issue Zhai Jun during a call on Thursday, according to a statement in Chinese by Israel’s embassy in Beijing.
China failed to unequivocally denounce the terrorist attacks, massacres and abductions of innocent civilians by Hamas, according to the statement.
Saturday’s US-China call, which lasted about an hour, was made possible in part by the diplomatic outreach the Biden administration has done with Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s government over recent months, Miller said.
That included a trip Blinken took to Beijing in June that reopened lines of communication with China after months of tension.
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Zhai on Friday had a group meeting in Beijing with envoys of the Arab States to China and responsible officials of the Mission of the League of Arab States.
He said China supports the LAS in playing an important role in the Palestinian issue and Beijing is ready to maintain communication and coordination with the Arab States, continue the dialog with all parties.
(Updates with Israeli criticism of China’s stance starting in ninth paragraph.)
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