Xi says China ‘deeply pained’ by ‘severe’ Gaza situation

Current round of Palestinian-Israeli conflict has caused a large number of innocent Palestinian civilian casualties and humanitarian situation in Gaza is extremely severe, Xi says

BEIJING   -   President Xi Jinping told his Egyptian counterpart on Wednesday that China was “deeply pained” by the “extremely severe” situation in Gaza, as Beijing hosts Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and several other Arab leaders.

The talks between Xi, Sisi and other Arab dignitaries in China this week are aimed at building consensus between Beijing and the Arab nations, as well as presenting a “common voice” on the conflict between Israel and Hamas. China has relations with Israel but has supported the Palestinian cause for decades and has campaigned for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The current round of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has caused a large number of innocent Palestinian civilian casualties and the humanitarian situation in Gaza is extremely severe. China is deeply pained,” Xi told Sisi in Beijing, according to state broadcaster CCTV. “The top priority task now is an immediate ceasefire, in order to avoid spillover of conflict, impact on regional peace and stability, and so as to prevent a more serious humanitarian crisis,” Xi said.

Egypt, along with Qatar and the United States, have been engaged for months in talks aimed at securing a lasting truce between Israel and Hamas, accompanied by the release of hostages kidnapped by the Palestinian militant group.

“China appreciates the important role played by Egypt in cooling down the situation and delivering humanitarian relief,” Xi said. He said China was ready to work with Egypt to continue to assist the people of Gaza “and push for an early, comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian issue”. Xi met Sisi in a grand ceremony outside Beijing’s Great Hall of People on Wednesday afternoon, state media footage showed, with the national anthems of both countries blaring out.

The Egyptian presidency has said discussions would “tackle ways to forge closer bilateral relations and to unlock broader prospects for cooperation in an array of fields”.

Beijing has sought to build closer ties with Arab states in recent years and brokered a detente between Tehran and Saudi Arabia last year. Beijing also hosted rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah last month for “in-depth and candid talks on promoting intra-Palestinian reconciliation”.

United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is among the delegates attending the forum, as well as a host of other regional leaders and diplomats.

Xi is set to deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony on Thursday, Beijing has said, aimed at building “common consensus” between China and Arab states.

Top of the agenda will be the war between Israel and Hamas, for which Xi has sought an “international peace conference”.

The Israeli military has pushed on with its campaign to defeat Hamas in the war triggered by the Palestinian movement’s October 7 attack, despite a global outcry that intensified after a deadly strike set a crowded camp ablaze on Sunday.

The strike sparked a fire that Gaza officials said killed 45 people and wounded about 250.

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