China backs efforts for independent Palestinian state


RIYADH (AFP) – China on Wednesday endorsed efforts to create an independent Palestinian state as Saudi Arabia hardened its accusations that Israel is preventing a settlement of the Middle East conflict .


China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi speaks during a joint press conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saudi al-Faisal in Riyadh. China on Wednesday endorsed efforts to create an independent Palestinian state as Saudi Arabia hardened its accusations that Israel is preventing a settlement of the Middle East conflict.

“China will continue its support for the Palestinian effort to establish an independent state,” Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said on a visit to Riyadh .

Yang said at a news conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal that China supports the principles of a two-state solution under the Saudi-driven Arab Peace Initiative , which calls for an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders and with Jerusalem as its capital.

Saud, meanwhile, stepped up the rhetoric over Israel’s refusal to freeze the construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and begin talks with the Palestinians.

“This is the longest conflict in modern times,” Saud said.

“The reason why this conflict is long is the refusal by Israel of all the attempts to end this conflict. Arab countries have done their job with the Arab Peace Initiative, which gives Israel security, and gives the Arab countries the restoration of their lands.

“But peace should be established by two sides, not just one side. If one side does not want peace, peace will not be achieved,” he said.

The comments came as both the US and Saudis have increased efforts to push the Palestinians and Israelis into final-status peace talks that would result in an independent Palestinian state.

Amid a sharp increase in regional diplomacy, White House National Security Adviser James Jones met Saudi King Abdullah late Tuesday on the first stop of a regional tour that will take him to Israel and the Palestinian territories .

US Middle East special envoy George Mitchell is also expected to visit soon.

The two sides remained at odds over the key issue of Israeli settlements .

The Palestinians and their Arab backers — with Saudi Arabia one of the most important — insist that peace talks cannot resume until Israel freezes the construction of Jewish settlements in the West bank and East Jerusalem.

Israel and the United States say talks should proceed with no preconditions.

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