Palestinian President Abbas begins China visit as Beijing seeks larger role in Mideast

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Beijing (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas began a visit to China on Tuesday that comes as Beijing is seeking a larger role in Middle East politics and competing for energy resources.

In announcing the visit, China’s Foreign Ministry said China was willing to help broker relations between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government that have deteriorated to the lowest level in recent years. The ministry did not say who Abbas would meet in Beijing or give other details of his four-day visit.

Increased fighting over the last year between Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank has resulted in the deadliest period of violence between the sides in years in that territory.

The visit also comes after China hosted talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia that resulted in the two restoring diplomatic relations.

That development was seen as representing a diplomatic victory for China as Gulf Arab states perceive the United States slowly withdrawing from the wider region.

But it remains to be seen how far the reconciliation efforts between Iran and Saudi Arabia will progress. The rivalry dates to the 1979 revolution that toppled Iran’s Western-backed monarchy, and in recent years the two countries have backed rival armed groups and political factions across the region.

State broadcaster CCTV quoted Foreign Minister Qin Gang as saying that “China supports the resumption of peace talks between Palestine and Israel as soon as possible on the basis of the ‘two-state solution,’ and is willing to play an active role in this regard.”

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