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Iran urges china intervene palestinians

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Iran urges China to intervene in Palestinian conflict as leaders meet to strengthen ties
Sat Apr 20, 2:31 PM ET
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer

TEHRAN, Iran - President Mohammad Khatami (news - web sites) urged his Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin, to intervene in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Saturday and stop the "crimes," Iranian state radio reported.

The appeal came during Khatami's meeting with Jiang, who is making the first visit to Iran by a Chinese head of state since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

"A tragedy is taking place in the occupied (Palestinian) territories," Tehran radio quoted Khatami as saying about Israel's military offensive on the West Bank. "China ... can play a leading role in stopping the crimes."

Jiang said China supported Palestinian rights as defined by U.N. resolutions, the radio reported.

"We are opposed to domination and support settlement of disputes through peaceful negotiations ... We have always supported the just demands of all Arabs, including Palestinians, for the right to territorial integrity," the radio quoted Jiang as saying.

Jiang's visit is seen as an attempt by China and Iran to upgrade their relations at a time when they are concerned about the growing U.S. influence in Asia and the plight of the Palestinians.

Iranian and Chinese government officials signed six agreements Saturday on co-operation in the fields of energy, petrochemicals, commerce, transportation, information technology and culture.

Jiang, who is due to meet Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday, arrived in the Iranian capital late Friday after touring the 2,500-year-old ruins of Persepolis, the capital of ancient Persia, about 850 kilometers (510 miles) south of Tehran.

Behzad Shahandeh, a Tehran University professor and expert on southeast Asia, said the visit was "a turning point" in Sino-Iranian ties as it comes less than three months after U.S. President George W. Bush (news - web sites) said that Iran, North Korea (news - web sites) and Iraq formed an "axis of evil" seeking weapons of mass destruction. Iran denies the charge.

Shahandeh said Jiang's visit to Persepolis indicated the "significance the two great civilizations of Iran and China attach to their historic and cultural affinities."

"The two Asian giants share a lot to oppose the United States. Both are opposed to a unipolar world and are critical of the United States using human rights as a political weapon against them. Iran has also a lot to learn from economic reforms in China," Shahandeh said.

The Chinese ambassador to Iran, Sun Bi Gan, indicated China shares several of Iran's views on foreign policy.

"China supports a multi-polar world, is critical of Israeli killings and believes peace in the Middle East will not be achieved without materialization of the rights of Palestinians, including withdrawal of Israeli troops from occupied territories," Sun told Iranian television on Friday.

In addition, both states have expressed concern about the rise of U.S. influence in central Asia after Washington's successful intervention in the Afghanistan (news - web sites) civil war last year.

Jiang, heading a delegation of 180 government and business officials, is finishing a trip that has taken him to Libya, Nigeria, Germany and Tunisia.

The trade volume between Iran and China is worth dlrs 3.3 billion a year, Iranian government officials said.


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