Arafat to Ask for China’s Support at Meeting with Leaders Friday
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat is due to meet China's top leaders on Friday on the latest leg of a whirlwind Asian tour to drum up international support for the Palestinian cause, reported AFP.
Arafat would see Chinese President Jiang Zemin in Beijing at 5:30 pm (0930 GMT), China's foreign ministry said.
He would earlier meet the country's number two Li Peng, chairman of the standing committee of the legislature, the National People's Congress.
Arafat's official spokesman was quoted by the agency as saying that the objective of the visit was to prompt China into leaning more of its considerable diplomatic weight behind the Palestinians.
"The main objective of President Arafat's visit to China is to consult with Chinese leaders concerning the Israeli aggression in Palestine," Nabil Abu Rudeina said on Friday morning.
"We are looking for a strong Chinese support in the (United Nations) Security Council and in the UN."
Arafat would also meet ambassadors from Arab countries on Friday and was he expected to leave China on Saturday, Palestinian ambassador Moustapha Saphariny told Reuters.
According to Reuters, analysts say that Beijing is expected to reaffirm its long-standing support for a Palestinian state and to offer some financial assistance, but is unlikely to propose any new initiatives in the peace process.
"China is very careful, more or less even-handed," one Western diplomat told the agency. "There is very little for them to gain by getting more closely involved."
Arafat's two-day visit to China, his 14th trip there, follows swift stopovers in India and Pakistan on Thursday.
In talks with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Arafat asked India to help push for a resumption of talks to end the bloodshed. In Pakistan, Arafat said he briefed President Pervez Musharraf on the outcome of Tuesday's Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo.
China on Friday again called for "the utmost restraint on the part of both Israel and Palestine, and especially Israel," and urged the two sides to resume negotiations.
Beijing has remained largely even-handed in its policy toward the Middle East to balance ties with its old Arab allies and Israel, a key arms supplier, said Reuters.
It quoted diplomats as saying Israel wants China to tell Arafat he must end hostilities against Israel before returning to the negotiating table.
Israel has sold Beijing tens of millions of dollars worth of arms, but Chinese support for the Palestinians dates back to 1963 when Arafat met Chairman Mao Zedong and received weapons – Albawaba.com
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