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China urges countries to help keep Middle East tensions from escalating

(China Daily)    07:36, January 06, 2020

China has ramped up its diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the heightened tensions in the Gulf region over the weekend, vowing to play a constructive role in maintaining peace and security in the Middle East, the Foreign Ministry said.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had telephone talks on Saturday with the foreign ministers of Iran, Russia and France, reiterating that China opposes the abuse of military force in international relations.

On Friday, China's top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, expressed the country's grave concern over the current Middle East situation in a telephone conversation with United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He urged relevant parties, particularly the US, to maintain restraint.

The rarely seen diplomatic activity has come after the US killed Qassem Soleimani, a high-profile commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, in an airstrike near Baghdad International Airport on Friday morning. The attack sparked outrage in Teheran, and Iranian officials vowed to retaliate.

As the risk of further violence between Washington and Teheran looms large, fears are growing about a further escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf region.

Yang, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and director of the office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, told Pompeo that relevant parties should return to the track of dialogue to achieve, as soon as possible, a de-escalation of tensions.

In telephone talks with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Wang said that the military adventurism of the US goes against basic norms governing international relations and will aggravate tensions and turbulence in the region.

"Military means will lead nowhere. Maximum pressure won't work either," Wang said. "China urges the US to seek resolutions through dialogue instead of the abuse of force.

"China will continue to uphold an objective and just position and play a constructive role in safeguarding peace and security in the Gulf region of the Middle East."

Speaking to Russian Foreign Mi¬nister Sergei Lavrov and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Wang mentioned that their countries, together with China, are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and therefore shoulder important responsibilities in safeguarding world peace and security.

He called on the two countries to strengthen their strategic communication with China, jointly uphold international law, jointly safeguard the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and basic norms governing international relations, jointly oppose unilateral military action and play a responsible role in properly handling the current situation in the Middle East.

Both Lavrov and Le Drian said their countries have positions similar to China's on the flare-up between the US and Iran and stand ready to maintain close communication with China to play a positive role in preventing escalation.

The US attack that killed Soleimani took place against a background of tensions between Washington and Teheran since 2018, when US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which was signed by Iran, the US, France, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and the European Union in 2015. Trump then renewed sanctions against Iran.

Wang underscored the importance of implementing the Iranian nuclear deal and expressed hope that all parties would stay in close communication and not let the attack affect the implementation of the agreement.

The Chinese embassy in the US released a security notice on Sunday on its website, reminding Chinese nationals in the US to keep close watch on the security situation, as many US cities have strengthened security measures, along with Washington, to heighten vigilance. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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