China said Tuesday it supports Palestinian statehood, reacting to reports that the Palestinians will declare an independent state in mid-September.
"China supports the Palestinian people's effort to regain their legitimate national rights, including the right to go back to their homes and establish an independent state," foreign ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said at the ministry's regular briefing. "This is also the international community's obligation."
The Palestine Liberation Organization's 129-member Central Council, which met for a second day Monday in Gaza City, said it will declare an independent state on September 13th.
"The establishment and implementation of a Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel on June 4th 1967 will happen on September 13th, at the end of the period," a statement from the council said.
China, which established diplomatic relations with Palestine in 1988, sees Palestine as the key question to be solved to reach a lasting peace in the Middle East.
"We have always supported the Palestinian people's just cause," Sun said. "We respect and support efforts by Palestine in pursuit of a peaceful solution of Middle East issues."
China is seeking to play a role in the Middle East peace process as well.
Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak discussed the latest developments in the Middle East peace process over the phone Sunday, according to Barak's office.
Jiang said he had noticed "some obstacles" had occurred in the peace talks and considered it "inevitable" that difficulties appeared when the peace talks entered the current phase.
"The international community, including China, is unwilling to see such difficulties," China's Xinhua news agency quoted Jiang as saying.
If all the parties involved "take a serious and concrete attitude, build mutual trust, make compromise, and earnestly implement all the agreements reached," Jiang said, the peace negotiations "will make steady progress." - BEIJING (AFP)
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