UAE President, Bahrain King, other Arab leaders to head to China this week

The meeting comes as China seeks to position itself as a mediator in the conflict between Hamas and Israel


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Photo: Reuters file
Photo: Reuters file

Published: Mon 27 May 2024, 11:40 AM

Last updated: Mon 27 May 2024, 11:44 AM

China will host President Sheikh Mohamed, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as well as a number of other Arab leaders in Beijing this week, its foreign ministry said Monday. Also among the delegation will be Bahrain's King Hamad and Tunisian President Kais Saied.

The leaders will from Tuesday to Saturday "pay state visits to China and attend the opening ceremony of the 10th Ministerial Conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum", foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, Vice Foreign Minister Deng Li said President Xi Jinping would attend the forum and deliver a keynote address on Thursday.

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Xi would also "hold talks with the four heads of state respectively to exchange views on bilateral relations and regional and international issues of common concern", Deng said.

The forum would aim to deepen "consensus between China and Arab countries", Deng said, and would be co-chaired by top diplomat Wang Yi and his Mauritanian counterpart.

They would also "issue a common voice between China and Arab countries on the Palestinian issue", he said.

China has sought to build closer ties with Arab states in recent years, and last year brokered a detente between Tehran and Saudi Arabia.

During a tour of the Middle East in January, top diplomat Wang met Sisi in Cairo, saying relations had reached their "best level" in history, according to a foreign ministry readout.

The meeting with Arab leaders in Beijing comes as China seeks to position itself as a mediator in the conflict between the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Israel.

Wang's trip to Egypt saw the two countries release a joint statement on the conflict, expressing support for a "comprehensive, just and lasting settlement".

China has historically been sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and supportive of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And Xi has called for an "international peace conference" to resolve the fighting.

In November, Beijing hosted a meeting of foreign ministers of the Palestinian Authority, Indonesia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan for talks aimed at a "de-escalation" of the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Hamas's October 7 attack on southern Israel resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,984 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.


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