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Statement by Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing at the Security Council Meeting on the Middle East

2006/09/21

Madam President, Dear colleagues,

I wish to express my congratulations on the convening of this meeting,which is a result of the concerted efforts made by all parties concerned. China has all along fully supported this initiative made by the League of Arab States.

Madam President,

The Middle East used to be a land of peace and tranquility flowing with honey and milk. Yet during the past half a century, it has been ravaged by hostilities and wars, shedding blood and tears. This is a challenge to the human consciences.

China welcomes the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1701. The Resolution represents an important step for settling the Lebanese-Israeli conflict and must be fully implemented. China calls for an early expansion and deployment of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and is ready to contribute more troops to UNIFIL. We have started to honor our commitment of providing humanitarian assistance to Lebanon and urge all parties to extend a helping hand to the Lebanese people. More importantly, the international community should urge Israel and Lebanon to reach a long-term political solution, turn swords into ploughshares and live in peace.

Dear colleagues,

The Middle East peace process is stalled. Yet peace is not out of reach. To revive the Middle East peace process, I wish to make the following proposals:

First, respect history and face reality. History teaches us lessons while reality gives us the key to creating the future. To settle the Middle East issue, full consideration should be given to the historical background involving religious conflicts, colonialism, ethnic clashes and border disputes. At the same time, we must face reality. Israel should respect the choice of the Palestinian people and agree to the establishment of an independent state of Palestine. And all forces in Palestine should recognize Israel's right to existence and its sovereignty. We hope that the Israeli and Palestinian governments will act in the fundamental interests of their peoples, respond to the calling of the times and make the right choice so that the two countries will live in peace and develop in harmony.

Second, build mutual trust and persist in peace talks. In the Middle East, no one will emerge victorious from war, and force will not lead to peace. Negotiation is the only way to peace. At present, Israel and its Arab neighbors should stop violent conflicts and particularly military actions targeted at civilians and take steps to rebuild mutual trust. On this basis, they should speedily restart negotiations and make necessary compromises and concessions to achieve peace among the brave.

Third, address the root causes of conflicts and work for a comprehensive solution. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict remains the core and root cause of the Middle East issue. This conflict is closely connected with the Lebanese-Israeli issue, the Syrian-Israeli issue and other regional issues in the Middle East, which have increasingly affected each other. To realize just and sustainable peace in the Middle East, it is critical that the Security Council resolutions and the principle of "land for peace" be adhered to. And all the related issues should be addressed in a coordinated way to avoid complicating the already volatile situation in the region.

Fourth, promote cooperation for the benefit of the people. China calls on Israel to lift its blockade against Palestine, dismantle the separation wall and facilitate the supply of humanitarian assistance to Palestine. Palestine and Israel should expand non-governmental business and trade ties to enable the two peoples to be the first to enjoy peace dividends and to cease the long-standing mutual animosity. This, in turn, will create good atmosphere for pursuing political solution.

Fifth, act in an impartial way and step up mediation. The help and support of the international community are essential for progress in the Middle East peace process. It's important that all parties should act in an impartial and balanced way and refrain from using double standards. China supports the efforts of the Quartet. We reiterate that the Security Council should shoulder its primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security and welcome any new initiative that will help move forward the Middle East peace process.

Dear colleagues,

There are bound to be obstacles on the road to peace in the Middle East. However, as long as we adhere to peace talks rather than resort to the force, seek cooperation and avoid confrontation, enhance mutual understanding and reduce mutual hostility, we will definitely be able to open the door to peace.

Thank you.

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