China calls for ceasefire in Israel, suggests mediation at meeting with Russia

BEIJING/MOSCOW (Reuters) – China’s foreign minister on Monday called for a ceasefire to halt the bloodshed in Israel, suggesting at a meeting with his Russian counterpart that major world powers should work to avoid a humanitarian disaster.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the conflict between Israel and Hamas with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing ahead of a visit by President Vladimir Putin to China.

“The United Nations Security Council must take action, and the major powers should play an active role,” Wang told Lavrov, according to a Chinese transcript of the meeting.

“It is imperative that a ceasefire be put in place, that the two sides be brought back to the negotiating table, and that an emergency humanitarian channel be established to prevent a further humanitarian disaster.”

Russia and China, both permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, have said that the fundamental issue at the heart of the conflict is the lack of justice for the Palestinians.

The Palestinians want a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital – all territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war.

Russia has condemned violence against both Jews and Palestinians, but Putin has repeatedly criticised the United States for what he said was its flawed approach which had ignored the need for an independent Palestinian state.

“A thorough exchange of views took place on a wide range of international and regional issues, including the sharply aggravated situation in the Middle East,” Russia’s foreign ministry said of the meeting with Wang.

During the bilateral talks, Lavrov and Wang Yi also discussed the military conflict in Ukraine and efforts to resolve it through “political and diplomatic methods”, the ministry said.

“China appreciates President Putin’s high regard for and support for the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, and welcomes the Russian side’s continued active participation,” Wang said.

(Reporting by Reuters in Moscow and Beijing; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)