BEIJING (AP) — Jordan's King Abdullah called on China to play an active role in resolving the conflict in Syria, saying Wednesday that Beijing should use its influence as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and as a "friend of Jordan and the Middle East."
Abdullah made his appeal in his opening remarks at a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a state visit to China. He also praised relations between the two countries and emphasized a common commitment to promoting progress on global issues of concern.
"It is in that spirit that I am here today to discuss with you as a key member of the United Nations Security Council and a friend of Jordan and the Middle East, ways and means of achieving peace, stability, civility and prosperity in our region through an active role in the (Israel-Palestine) peace process as well as that of the Syrian conflict," Abdullah said.
Reporters were ushered from the room following Abdullah's remarks and it wasn't clear how Xi responded.
However, in his own opening remarks, the Chinese president stressed the friendship between the two countries and said he looked forward to in-depth talks on "regional and international issues of mutual interest."
Asked about China's response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China had made "strenuous mediation efforts" between the parties in the Syrian conflict. Hong said China backed Security Council discussion of the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack that, according to the U.S., killed more than 1,400 people, including at least 400 children.
"China is willing to work with the global community and remains committed to resolving the Syrian chemical weapons issue and launching the process of dismantling the chemical weapons in Syria," he said.
Beijing has called for a negotiated political settlement to the more than 2-year-old conflict in Syria. It has joined Russia in blocking moves at the United Nations that could result in the government's removal — leading to criticism from the U.S. and others that the two countries were prolonging a conflict that has left 100,000 people dead and more than 2 million displaced.
Despite that, China has sought to play a bigger role in the Middle East as part of efforts to stand among leading nations in helping shape world events. Abdullah is the latest in a string of Middle East leaders to visit Beijing, and China has frequently dispatched diplomats to the region to nurture ties with all parties, including Israel.