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Arab League chief: Sino-Arab relations are very much valued
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09:22, May 30, 2009

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The exponential growth in trade and strategic relations between China and the Arab world is highly valued at the League of Arab States and will not come at the expense of relations with the United States, the secretary-general of the League of Arab States said at a press conference here on Friday.

"We value very much our relationship with China," Secretary-General Amre Moussa, told Xinhua. "We can have good relations, growing trade and growing economic investments with China and America at the same time."

China is now the largest exporter to the Arab world, overtaking the United States for the first time since the 1960s. Trade between China and Arab countries jumped from 36.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2004, when the Sino-Arab Cooperation Forum was launched, to 132.8 billion dollars last year.

In the past, particularly during the Bush administration, the Arab world became increasingly disenchanted with America's lackluster role in the Israel-Palestine conflict. But U.S. President Barack Obama offers renewed hope that peace talks will progress.

"The previous administration waited six years (before addressing the crisis)," said Moussa. "Now (the Obama) administration has started engaging right away. This is encouraging because all of us have suffered from certain policies in the past."

"The hope is that the Obama administration will succeed in breaking this deadlock in order to allow the peace efforts to move on with the establishment of a viable Palestinian state ... which includes the immediate freeze of (Israeli) settlements," he said.

At the same time, despite the international community having "a window of opportunity," the Obama administration has yet to take concrete actions, added Moussa.

"What we expect is not only to hear a speech, but to act," he said.

Indeed, action on the Middle East crisis is rare. The UN Security Council has refused to follow up on recommendations made by a United Nations investigation into accusations of war crimes committed by Israel during the Gaza offensive in January.

Frustrated, the Arab League is "actively pursing" other avenues, including several independent fact finding and investigations, said Moussa.

"We are not going to let go of what happened in Gaza against the civilians," he said. "If you want to have justice, you have to have it across the board."

In a related development, the United Nations Human Rights Council investigation team will arrive in Gaza on Monday. Led by Justice Richard Goldstone, the team plans to meet with all concerned parties, including witness and victims of alleged violence, according to a press release issued on Friday.

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