China urges US to play 'constructive role' in Middle East

China urged the United States to play "a constructive role" in the Middle East on Friday after its top diplomat Wang Yi spoke with his U.S. counterpart Antony Blinken over the phone.

Blinken used the call to ask Beijing to use its influence to dissuade Iran from striking Israel, the State Department said. Concerns of retaliation by Tehran have grown after an Israeli strike on April 1 levelled an Iranian diplomatic building in Damascus.

On Friday China confirmed the call had taken place, saying Wang "expressed China's strong condemnation of the attack" while emphasising the "inviolable" right to security of diplomatic institutions and the need to respect the sovereignty of Iran and Syria.

"China will continue to play a constructive role in the resolution of the Middle East issue... and contribute to cooling down the situation," China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning added.

"The United States side in particular should play a constructive role."

Iran's clerical leadership has vowed to strike back after the attack, which killed seven members of the Islamic Republic's elite Revolutionary Guards, including two generals.

The United States has repeatedly made public appeals for China to do more to address the crisis, including through pressure on Iran, which supports Hamas.

Beijing in turn has criticised the United States as biased toward Israel.

"This round of escalation is the latest manifestation of the spillover from the Gaza conflict, and it is imperative that the Gaza conflict be put to rest as soon as possible," Mao said Friday, adding Beijing was calling for an immediate ceasefire.

President Joe Biden said Wednesday that U.S. support for Israel's security was "ironclad," despite his criticism of...

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