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Xi calls for Middle East talks

(China Daily)

08:18, May 07, 2013

President Xi Jinping welcomes his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday. Photo by Xu Jingxing / China Daily

President Xi Jinping called for talks between Palestine and Israel on Monday amid an unusual diplomatic situation in which leaders of both countries made separate, overlapping visits to China.

Analysts said the simultaneous visits of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu show that China is in a unique position to help solve the Palestinian issue because it maintains good relations with both sides.

Xi made the call for talks when meeting Abbas at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

According to a statement from the Foreign Ministry, Xi said "negotiation should be taken as the only way to peace between Palestine and Israel. The two sides should follow the trend of the times, pursue peace talks, show mutual understanding and accommodation, and meet each other halfway".

Talks between Israel and Palestine have been deadlocked for four years and there was no indication that a meeting would take place.

The president also said that the right direction should be an independent Palestinian state and the peaceful co-existence of Palestine and Israel. "At the same time, Israel's right to exist and its legitimate security concerns should also be fully respected," Xi said.

The immediate priority is to stop settlement activities, end violence against innocent civilians, lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip and properly handle the issue of Palestinian prisoners to create the necessary conditions for the resumption of peace talks, Xi said.

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