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Top China, US diplomats discuss Israel-Hamas war

Published : 07 Dec 2023 06:51 PM

The top diplomats from China and the United States discussed the Israel-Hamas conflict in a call on Wednesday, Beijing and Washington said, agreeing on the need to de-escalate the war.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken "reiterated the imperative of all parties working to prevent the conflict from spreading", according to the US State Department.

Beijing said Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed in turn that, regarding the conflict between Israel and Hamas, "the top priority is to cease fire and end the war as soon as possible".

"Major countries must adhere to fairness and justice, uphold objectivity and impartiality, demonstrate calm and rationality, and make every effort to cool down the situation and prevent larger-scale humanitarian disasters," Wang said, according to the foreign ministry.

He reiterated Beijing's calls for a two-state solution to the conflict, stressing that "any arrangement involving the future of Palestine must reflect the will of the Palestinian people".

"China is willing to work with all parties to make efforts to this end," he said.

Blinken has made several visits to the Middle East in recent months as Israel pursues its campaign on the besieged Gaza Strip to destroy the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

China has good relations with Iran, whose clerical leadership supports both Hamas, which carried out deadly attacks on Israel on October 7, and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia that could open a second front against Israel.

Washington has been pressing Beijing to use its influence to push for calm in the region.

Blinken also told Wang on Wednesday that recent attacks against commercial vessels in the Red Sea by Iran-backed Huthi rebels posed an "unacceptable threat" to maritime security, State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller said.

The two sides also agreed to build on "progress made on key issues" during a summit between US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping last month in California, which led to military communications between the two countries being restored.

But Wang also warned Blinken against US support for the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory and has vowed to seize one day.

The top Chinese diplomat "emphasised China's solemn stance on the Taiwan issue, demanding that the United States does not interfere in China's internal affairs", the foreign ministry said.

The United States must not "support or indulge any 'Taiwan independence' forces", Wang said.