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Cablegate: China's Special Envoy Discusses Middle East Trip

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O 232326Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7161
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 002712

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KPAL IS CH XF
SUBJECT: CHINA'S SPECIAL ENVOY DISCUSSES MIDDLE EAST TRIP


Summary
-------

1. (SBU) China sees its role in the Middle East as one of trying to
persuade all parties to continue looking for a way toward peace,
China's Special Envoy on the Middle East Sun Bigan told Poloffs
during a briefing on his April 9-20 visit to Saudi Arabia, Israel,
the Palestinian Territories and Brussels. Sun discussed the recent
Arab Summit and concluded that Arab nations were committed to
restarting the Arab Peace Initiative. In meetings with Palestinian
President Abbas, Israeli Foreign Minister Livni and other leaders,
Sun said he learned more about their differences, especially about
Israel's three preconditions to further negotiations. Sun also met
with the families of three captured Israeli soldiers. He concluded
the briefing by answering questions on China's role in the Middle
East, thanking Saudi Arabia for its role in the peace process and
encouraging the international community to deal fairly with
Palestinians and Israelis. End Summary.

2. (SBU) In order to gauge the current situation in the Middle East
and to encourage peace talks, Chinese Special Envoy Sun traveled to
the region from April 9-18 and attended meetings with Saudi Arabian,
Palestinian and Israeli leaders, Sun said in an April 20 briefing.
Sun appealed to all parties involved to use the positive momentum
generated by the Mecca Accord and the recent Arab summit to increase
mutual trust and resume the peace process. China welcomes the
establishment of a new Palestinian government and hopes the
international community will support Palestinians and Israelis in
resolving their conflicts, Sun said.

3. (SBU) Sun reiterated that China consistently advocates a peaceful
political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that leads to
the harmonious coexistence of two nations based on UN resolutions
and the theory of land-for-peace. China encourages the efforts of
Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority, urges commitment to the
newly formed unity government and hopes Palestinian authorities will
make greater efforts, specifically to release the three captured
Israeli solders whose family members Sun met. China also calls on
Israel to make further steps to ease the humanitarian crisis in the
West Bank and Gaza and to have greater compromise. As a permanent
UNSC member, China will work with all parties to increase contact
and cooperation and support all efforts to further the peace process
and realize peace in the Middle East, Sun said.

4. (SBU) Sun made four general observations: First, he noted Arab
nations are dedicated to restarting the Arab Peace Initiative and
hoped that Arab nations could make progress towards normalizing
relations with Israel. Second, he noted that while the
international community helped resolve some intra-Palestinian
conflict with the Mecca Accord, it should be doing more to help
resolve conflicts between the Palestinian government and Israel
regarding the three preconditions. Third, he emphasized the
importance Israel attaches to the issue of the three captured
soldiers, expressed sympathy for the soldiers' families and
encouraged a prisoner exchange as soon as possible. Finally, he
mentioned that Olmert and Abbas began holding regular bi-weekly
meetings while he was in the region. Sun felt these meetings would
be important opportunities to discuss key topics, including
security, arms smuggling and easing the closure of borders and
crossings into Palestinian areas.

5. (SBU) Responding to questions, Sun said that China plays a
positive role as an advocate for peace, working to persuade all
parties to continue looking for a path to peace. China is far away
and has no private interest in the Middle East, but nonetheless pays
close attention to the situation, especially between Israel and the
Arab Nations. Sun emphasized that if the Middle East finds peace,
the political trust and economic and trade cooperation that will
result will be favorable to all countries, including China.

6. (SBU) Sun was challenged on the issue whether China's Mideast
role is truly disinterested, given its desire for oil and other
natural resources in the region. He dismissed such charges as
groundless, pointing out that China has had relations with some
Middle East countries for decades, but only became an oil importer
after 1993. China believes it has a positive and fair role in the
region, with friendly exchanges with Arab countries and with
Israel.

7. (SBU) In his meetings with Saudi Arabian King Abdullah and
Foreign Minister Saud Al Faisal, Sun said they touched on bilateral
relations between China and Saudi Arabia, observing that the
relationship has grown quickly and smoothly since ties were
established in 1990. But the trip focused on convincing all parties
to move toward peace talks. Sun thanked Saudi Arabia for its work
to promote Palestinian cohesiveness with the Mecca Accord and its
efforts to improve relations between Israel and Arab Nations during
the recent Arab Summit.


BEIJING 00002712 002 OF 002


8. (SBU) Sun called on the international community to treat Israelis
and Palestinians fairly, saying that while Palestinians should make
efforts toward peace, Israelis should also make appropriate
compromises.

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