November 22, 2002

Arafat's Authority is Key to Peace - FM Spokesman

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said on Tuesday that the now tense situation in the Middle East would be eased if the authority of Yassar Arafat and the Palestinian National Authority under his leadership was maintained.

Kong, who was holding his first press conference as spokesman, said China believes Arafat is the leader of the Palestinian people and symbolizes the just cause of the Palestinian people.

His authority would also help revive peace talks between Israel and Palestine, he added.

On the current Middle East situation, Kong said China has consistently opposed any violent action against civilians.

"All relevant parties need to act calmly, with restraint and take effective measures to avoid further deterioration of the situation," Kong said.

He added that all involved should actively seek peaceful ways to resolve the disputes.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday "urgent action" was needed in the Middle East and said he hoped the United States would remain in contact with both the Israelis and Palestinians as a mediator.

Annan earlier discussed the Middle East conflict and Afghanistan with Austrian President Thomas Klestil.

"We discussed the grave situation in the Middle East and our concern for urgent action to ensure we can pull the protagonists back from the precipice," he said.

Security is being tightened around Jerusalem amid fears of a new wave of attacks following the collapse of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's proclaimed truce efforts.

Israel's Public Security Minister Uzi Landau was to submit plans to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon soon to bolster security around Jerusalem which has been rocked by a series of deadly suicide bombings and shootings, public radio reported yesterday.

The minister will then seek approval from the cabinet for the plan which proposes a series of checkpoints and physical barriers along the city's perimeters to control access.

But it does not recommend checkpoints dividing west Jerusalem from the predominantly Arab east Jerusalem, which was captured by the Jewish state in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

The centre of Jerusalem was crawling with armed police on Monday as the country braced for a new wave of deadly Palestinian attacks.

In Washington a "disappointed" US President George W. Bush accused Arafat of falsely professing a commitment to peace, as US officials renewed demands that he act immediately to rein in the anti-Israeli violence.

(China Daily January 30, 2002)

In This Series
Israeli Army Sends More Troops to Nablus

Woman Bomber Kills Israeli, Self, Injures 100 in Jerusalem

US Stand on PNA Helps Sharon: Palestinian Official

Arab League Urges Int'l Community to Halt Israeli State Terrorism

Israel Kills Militant, Hamas Vows Revenge



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