China backs Palestinian UN bid

China on Monday highlighted its support for the Palestinian bid for full membership of the United Nations but called for "prudent" international action on Syria.

China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said his country would back Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in any Security Council vote on membership, which the United States has vowed to veto.

"China consistently supports the just cause of establishing an independent Palestinian state and supports Palestine's membership in the United Nations," Yang told the UN General Assembly in a speech.

He said China backed "political negotiation" to achieve the two state solution between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Yang also called for progress in talks between Israel and Syria and Lebanon to reach a "comprehensive, just and durable peace in the Middle East".

He highlighted China's concern about Syria, however. Western nations are pressing for UN sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad and China has threatened to veto any move at the UN Security Council.

The international community should "handle the Syrian issue in a prudent way so as to prevent further turbulence in Syria and its repercussions on regional peace," Yang said.

In a marked call to Assad's forces and the opposition demonstrators, Yang said "we hope that parties in Syria will exercise restraint, avoid any form of violence or more bloodshed and conflict, and act quickly to ease tension."

China has joined Russia in leading opposition to UN sanctions against the Assad government in Syria, where the United Nations says that more than 2,700 people have been killed since March.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged China to back strong UN action on Syria when she met with Yang Jiechi just before his speech, a senior US official said.

AFP

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