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Envoy sees Chinese role in Middle East

(China Daily)

18:16, November 24, 2012

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi greets Bassam al-Salhi, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' envoy, before they hold a meeting in Beijing on Friday. [Feng Yongbin/China Daily]

China can play a "special role" in the Middle East, a Palestinian envoy said on Friday, a day after a cease-fire took effect following eight days of bloody fighting between Israel and militants in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

Beijing has decided to give Palestine $1 million in urgent humanitarian aid, Bassam al-Salhi, an envoy of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said after talks with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

Al-Salhi referred to China as a "broker" and a "mediator" in efforts to maintain calm in the region as well as seeking the status of Palestine as a non-member observer of the UN.

The envoy arrived in Beijing on Thursday for a three-day trip, after the fiercest fighting in years between Israel and Hamas militants killed 161 Palestinians and five Israelis.

A cease-fire brokered by Egypt came into effect on Thursday in Gaza.

Al-Salhi, also general secretary of the Palestinian People's Party, said Beijing could succeed in finding a solution to end hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians.

"We are very interested in the Chinese role in all the Middle East because all the Middle East needs more efforts from the international community.

"They want to be involved and we are interested in them being more involved.

"A special role (for) China is coming," he said.

According to a statement from the Foreign Ministry, Yang told al-Salhi that Beijing is happy to see the cease-fire agreement and hopes "relevant parties fulfill the cease-fire promise earnestly to avoid more conflicts".

"The Gaza conflict has once more exposed the importance and urgency of solving the Palestinian issue," Yang said.

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