China suggests 4-point proposal for peace talks

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Chinese president Xi Jinping on Monday discussed with President Mahmoud Abbas in Beijing a four-point proposal to reach a compromise for the question of Palestine, the deputy Chinese ambassador to Palestine said.

In a news conference at the Chinese embassy in Ramallah, the official said the Chinese proposal focused on an independent Palestinian state, negotiations as the only way to peace, the principle of “land for peace”, and guarantees the international community should provide for the progress of the peace process.

Abbas’ three-day trip to China — the first by a Middle Eastern leader since Xi took office in March — ends Tuesday, overlapping with a five-day visit to China by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that began in Shanghai on Monday and will end in the capital.

Chinese state-run media have called Abbas’ trip a state visit, while officials described Netanyahu’s as an “official visit”.

Beijing has traditionally remained distant from Middle Eastern affairs, though in recent years it has begun to take a more active diplomatic role.

After a full military welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People, Xi told Abbas he had “maintained the strategic choice of peace” and helped “building a country which has received the wide respect and support of the Palestinian people and international society”.

Abbas said: “I appreciate China’s high position in the world nowadays. In recent years all the Chinese governments have adopted wise policies that have effectively had benefits and avoided harm”.

The two sides signed cooperation agreements on economic technical cooperation and cultural exchange, details of which were not immediately available.

Chas Freeman, a former US assistant secretary of state and chargé d’affaires in China, said there was nothing original in China’s four-point proposal and called it “unrealistic.”

“Indeed, they show how much China is part of the international consensus on the Palestine issue. But, like the position of the international community, the Chinese proposal is not attached to any plan of implementation. It is therefore unrealistic.”

In an email, Freeman added that Israel would likely dismiss the proposal as “toothless,” while it would give the Palestinian Authority an excuse to continue pursuing the two-state solution.

Ahead of his visit, Abbas told China’s state news agency Xinhua that he planned to discuss obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian talks and ask Beijing to urge Israel to end policies that obstructed the Palestinian economy.

During his meetings Netanyahu is expected to seek greater Chinese backing for tougher sanctions against Iran in an attempt to slow its atomic program, which Israel and Western states suspect is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Beijing said that Netanyahu had arrived and begun his official meetings on Monday, without giving details.

(Source / 07.05.2013)

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