China urges calm between Saudi Arabia and Iran

AFP , Monday 11 Jan 2016

Zhang Ming
foreign minister of China Zhang Ming (AFP)

A Chinese diplomat urged "calm and restraint" between Saudi Arabia and Iran during a visit to both countries last week, China's government said Monday.

Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic ties with Iran earlier this month after angry protesters ransacked and set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran over the execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

The tensions between the Sunni and Shia powers have reverberated across the Middle East and the Muslim world, complicating efforts to resolve conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

Chinese vice foreign minister Zhang Ming met last week with senior Saudi and Iranian officials during two-day visits to each country, China's ministry of foreign affairs said in separate statements on its official website.

In Saudi Arabia, he expressed his hope for calm and restraint from all relevant parties, a resolution of differences through dialogue, and joint efforts to push the situation towards detente, the statement said.

In Iran, he repeated the same wish for calm and restraint, stating that he hoped all parties would work together to safeguard regional peace and stability, it added.

China depends on the Middle East for its oil supplies but has long taken a back seat in the region's diplomatic and other disputes, only recently beginning to expand its role, especially in the Syrian crisis.

In the past month, Beijing has hosted high-level members from both the Syrian regime and its opposition, seeking a "political solution" to the crisis despite having four times vetoed UN Security Council measures aimed at addressing the conflict -- the most recent seeking the investigation of war crimes in the country.

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