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China Works to Raise Mideast Profile

By Alison Klayman, VOA, Beijing

China is working to increase its profile in international efforts to resolve the Mideast crisis. A Chinese envoy has been meeting with leaders in the region, and China is throwing its support to an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire.

China is urging the Israeli and Palestinian governments to accept the cease-fire proposal. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu, speaking through an interpreter, offered his assessment Thursday in Beijing.

"We hope that with the mediation of Egypt, relevant negotiation could generate positive results," she said.

Chinese special envoy to the Middle East Sun Bigan is in the region, this week.

Sun met with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Wednesday in Jerusalem, and then went to the Palestinian territories. He is promoting what China calls its "five standpoints" on the Gaza crisis.

These include a call to adhere to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1860 and to cease all military action. It also calls for implementing a ceasefire monitoring mechanism and establishing a stable channel for the distribution of humanitarian supplies.

China has already donated $1 million in emergency aid to the Palestinians.

The Chinese government has repeatedly stressed that it is ready to work with the international community to mediate a long-term solution.

China also is involved in other Mideast developments, this week.

China National Petroleum Corporation and the National Iranian Oil Company signed a nearly $2 billion-deal to develop the North Azadegan oil field, Wednesday. The western Iranian field is estimated to hold six-billion barrels in reserves.

Chinese spokeswoman Jiang says China and Iran enjoy normal relations of financial cooperation.

"Companies from the two countries conduct normal commercial cooperation in the oilfield, according to the principle of market economy and mutual benefit. I believe this is of significance for stabilizing the international oil market," she said.

Also, in Tehran, China opened its first Confucius Institute in the Mideast. The centers are set up, worldwide, to help non-native Chinese speakers learn the language.

... Payvand News - 01/15/09 ... --

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