Blinken asks China, others to dissuade Iran from striking Israel

China urges US to play ‘constructive role’ in Middle East

WASHINGTON/BEIJING  -  US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has asked China’s foreign minister and other counterparts to use their influence to dissuade Iran from strik­ing Israel, the State Department said Thursday. Blinken spoke by telephone over the past day to his Chinese, Turk­ish, Saudi and European counterparts “to make clear that escalation is not in anyone’s interest and that coun­tries should urge Iran not to escalate,” State Department spokesman Mat­thew Miller told reporters.

Blinken also spoke by telephone with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant “to reiterate our strong support for Israel against these threats,” Miller said. President Joe Biden said Wednesday that US sup­port for Israel’s security was “iron­clad,” despite his criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conduct of the war in Gaza.

The United States has repeatedly made public appeals for China, seen as its top long-term global rival, to do more to address the Middle East crisis, including through pressure on Iran, which supports Hamas. Bei­jing in turn has criticized the United States as biased toward Israel.

Meanwhile, China urged the United States to play “a constructive role” in the Middle East on Friday after its top diplomat Wang Yi spoke with his US counterpart Antony Blinken over the phone. Blinken used the call to ask Beijing to use its influence to dissuade Iran from striking Israel, the State De­partment said. Concerns of retaliation by Tehran have grown after an Israe­li strike on April 1 levelled an Iranian diplomatic building in Damascus. 

On Friday China confirmed the call had taken place, saying Wang “expressed China’s strong condem­nation of the attack” while empha­sising the “inviolable” right to secu­rity of diplomatic institutions and the need to respect the sovereignty of Iran and Syria. “China will contin­ue to play a constructive role in the resolution of the Middle East issue... and contribute to cooling down the situation,” China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning added. 

“The United States side in particu­lar should play a constructive role.” 

Iran’s clerical leadership has vowed to strike back after the attack, which killed seven members of the Islamic Republic’s elite Revolution­ary Guards, including two generals.

The United States has repeated­ly made public appeals for China to do more to address the crisis, includ­ing through pressure on Iran, which supports Hamas. Beijing in turn has criticised the United States as biased toward Israel. “This round of escala­tion is the latest manifestation of the spillover from the Gaza conflict, and it is imperative that the Gaza conflict be put to rest as soon as possible,” Mao said Friday, adding Beijing was calling for an immediate ceasefire. President Joe Biden said Wednesday that US support for Israel’s security was “ironclad,” despite his criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Net­anyahu’s conduct of the war in Gaza.

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